Unidentified series searches for answers for families

Unidentified series searches for answers for families
Unidentified: Possible suicide (Source: Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 Investigates begins a new series of reports called “Unidentified."

Investigator Sara Goldenberg profiles several cases of unidentified people the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office is trying to solve by finding their true identities.

19 Investigates found there are more than 50 cases of unidentified bodies in Cuyahoga County.

The series airs weekly on 19 News on Fridays.

Case 9: Tragic death with few clues

A tragic death of a young man from 1975 has left a lot of questions.

He was about 20 years old when he was found dead on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River by Merwin Avenue near the Center Street Bridge in the Flats.

Investigators believe it was likely suicide, and he jumped to his death one spring day in 1975.

“He’s somebody’s kid or grandkid or cousin or boyfriend. If you think about what was going on in the 70s, maybe he had a breakup or lost a job, or maybe he got back from the military,” said Anjie Fischer with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Unidentified: Possible suicide
Unidentified: Possible suicide (Source: Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

Case 8: Skull and bones found in building foundation

Contract workers clearing an abandoned building made a chilling discovery, stumbling on a person’s skull and several bones in a now-empty lot on East 79th Street near Chester Avenue in Cleveland back in December 2017.

“A building was being razed and his remains were found in the foundation, along with the remains of a dog,” said Anjie Fischer with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

This case is challenging investigators, who have few clues to go on.

Contract workers clearing an abandoned building made a chilling discovery, stumbling on a person's skull and several bones in a now-empty lot on East 79th Street near Chester Avenue in Cleveland back in December 2017.
Contract workers clearing an abandoned building made a chilling discovery, stumbling on a person's skull and several bones in a now-empty lot on East 79th Street near Chester Avenue in Cleveland back in December 2017. (Source: Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

Case 7: Man found in the lake, unknown origin

A body found by a boater in Lake Erie is still unidentified six years later.

Tips coming into investigators haven’t been enough to solve the case.

“So he was partially skeletonized, only his feet were intact and he was wearing jeans and black work boots and a belt,” said Anjie Fischer with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Will the forensic sketch and other clues be enough to solve the case?

A body found by a boater in Lake Erie is still unidentified six years later.
A body found by a boater in Lake Erie is still unidentified six years later. (Source: Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

Case 6: Man found dead with lottery tickets

A man was found dead of unknown causes in an abandoned apartment in East Cleveland in March of 1998.

His skeletonized remains were found near Forest Hill Avenue and Superior Road in East Cleveland, down the road from the historical Lake View Cemetery.

His identity is still unknown more than 20 years later.

“In his pocket were lottery tickets dated Feb 12, 1997. He died sometime after that,” said Fischer.

They have a lot of evidence in this case, but will it be enough to solve it?

Case 5: Man who fell off a cliff

A tragic accident from 40 years ago killed a man and his identity is still unknown decades later.

He fell off a cliff in a local park in May of 1981 and died.

But the search for his name and his family isn’t over.

“He said he was from LA, his name was Joe. He said that he got robbed at E. 30th or 31st Street. And didn’t have money to get back to LA,” Fischer said.

But the true identity of “Joe” is still a mystery.

Case 4: Man found dead in chimney

It was a gruesome discovery during a building renovation in Cleveland in 1999.

A man’s remains were found in the chimney of an abandoned building on E. 131st Street.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office said the man died violently, but they don’t know exactly how.

“Probably somebody put him in the chimney or he tried to go down the chimney, again with the theory of him trying to rob the store,” Fischer said.

But Fischer’s focus is on who he is, not how he died.

Dental records and his DNA haven’t been enough to identify him.

Do you know who he was?

Case 3: Man found in Lake Erie

A tragic death and the man’s identity, still unsolved 23 years later.

A man was found floating in Lake Erie at the E. 9th St. pier in 1997.

Investigators believe he died violently by an assault or he was hit by a car.

The medical examiner’s office has great evidence, but no leads.

“What we would need is someone who can recognize his face to give us direction to where we can get DNA to compare,” Fischer said.

Case 2: Man found in a barrel

It was a shocking murder case in Cleveland in the late 1960s.

A child found a dead man’s body inside of a barrel with caustic fluid in a vacant lot on the east side of the city.

The man’s identity is still unknown decades later, but there are several clues that could help solve this case.

“We have jewelry, we have clothing, we have a different feature, we have a tattoo, we have DNA, we don’t know who this is,” said Anjie Fischer with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Case 1: “Tanya Green”

What happened to this woman is not a mystery, but her true identity still is, decades later.

Someone pushed a woman’s body out of a moving vehicle in Cleveland Heights on October 18, 1986.

She had been shot at least nine times, several times in the head.

She was identified by police and Cleveland friends as Tanya Green.

A notorious drug dealer with ties to the Jamaican mob was convicted in her murder.

But the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office believes the name Tanya was an alias.

They’re still trying to track down her true identity.

Watch our full story here.

Below you will find evidence from the cases that could lead to answers.

Case 7: Man found in the lake, unknown origin

A body found by a boater in Lake Erie is still unidentified six years later.

Tips coming into investigators haven’t been enough to solve the case.

“So he was partially skeletonized, only his feet were intact and he was wearing jeans and black work boots and a belt,” said Anjie Fischer with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Will the forensic sketch and other clues be enough to solve the case?

If you have any questions or a lead on the case, call the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office at 216-721-5610 and select 1, to talk to someone in the Investigations Department.

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