Unidentified: Who was this man found dead inside of a barrel in 1969?

Updated: Sep. 18, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - What if one of your family members went missing decades ago and you never found out what happened to them?

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

We’re taking a look at a second case in our new series Unidentified.

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

A child found a dead man’s body inside of a barrel on the east side of the city in 1969.

His identity is still unknown decades later.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office is searching tirelessly for answers.

They want to know-- do you know who this man was?

The case

East 82nd Street near East 93rd and Kinsman Road is now an old brick road surrounded by powerlines and brush.

There used to be a house here where a child was working outside in the yard back in 1969.

And then he made a shocking discovery.

“Stepdad says hey, go down to the empty lot and roll me one of those barrels so I can burn some trash. So the kid goes to get a barrel and rolls it down to where he and his stepdad were working,” said Anjie Fischer, a parentage analyst in the Parentage & Identification Lab with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Inside of that barrel was something no child should ever see.

“And they open the barrel and there is caustic fluid and the remains of an African American male,” she said.

They quickly called the police.

“He was dismembered so he fit in the barrel,” she said.

Clues left behind

Decades later, Fischer is like a detective trying to solve the case.

But she’s not looking for who killed this man or how he died.

They already know how he met his death.

“His cause of death was nine gunshot wounds to his body and a blunt impact to his head with multiple skin fractures,” Fischer said.

She is trying to find out who he was.

“It’s not that I don’t care who did that, but that’s not my job. My job is to find out who this is,” she said.

19 Investigates learned the corrosive chemical he was found in deteriorated his body and clothes.

But they still found clues.

They believe he was 6′ 1″ and 28 to 45 years old.

“He had a tattoo on his left forearm that said ‘Sally.’ Which did not appear to be professionally done,” Fischer said.

The man was wearing a silver wrist watch and a ring with a blue stone.

He had a gold tooth on his upper teeth, so they have a dental profile.

Fischer also pointed out that he had Crouzon syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting the skull formation. So his face is elongated.

The unidentified man was wearing a silver wrist watch and a ring with a blue stone.
The unidentified man was wearing a silver wrist watch and a ring with a blue stone.(Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

Where the cases stands now

She uploaded all of that information into NamUs, a national online search for missing and unidentified persons.

You can find this man’s case information on NamUs here.

But they had had no luck identifying him yet.

“So 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,” Fischer said.

Technology has advanced dramatically since the 1960s and investigators are sending this man’s samples out for DNA analysis.

If you know who he was you can call the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s office at 216-721-5610, select 1 and ask for the Investigations Department.

Artificial body parts and aids were found with this man's remains.
Artificial body parts and aids were found with this man's remains.(Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office)

Unidentified Series

You can read more on the first case we profiled about an unidentified woman who was murdered in the 1980s here. Her death reportedly had ties to the Jamaican mob in Cleveland.

You can also learn more about how the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office tries to solve these cases here.

And you can watch the entire Unidentified series on our Apple TV, Roku, Amazon and mobile apps.

Watch for our next Unidentified case next Friday.

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