Unidentified: Who was this man found dead in a chimney two decades ago?

Updated: Oct. 2, 2020 at 6:32 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It was a gruesome discovery during a building renovation in Cleveland 21 years ago.

A man’s remains were found in the chimney of an abandoned building.

Do you know who he was?

Somewhere out there, his family needs answers.

The case is still open at the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

They have more than 50 cases of unidentified bodies, and this man is one of them.

Investigator Sara Goldenberg continues our new series Unidentified.

We are profiling several cases, including this one.

A worker made a shocking discovery one February day in 1999.
A worker made a shocking discovery one February day in 1999.(WOIO)

What we know

A worker made a shocking discovery one February day in 1999.

He was working on an abandoned building on E. 131st Street in Cleveland near Harvard and Lee that used to be a convenience store.

“So the furnace installer was attempting to hook up to the chimney and found the decedent remains,” Fischer said.

Anjie Fischer is like a detective trying to solve the case.

She’s with the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office.

An artist sketch shows us what the man may have looked like.

“He could’ve fallen in that chimney the July before that or he could’ve been in the chimney for 14 years,” Fischer said.

She said he died violently, but they can’t figure out 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,” she said.

“He had a metal punch and some tape and things like that. He had a lot of clothes on,” Fischer said.

But her focus is on who he is, not how he died.

A man was found dead in a chimney in 1999.
A man was found dead in a chimney in 1999.(WOIO)

The evidence

Investigators believe he was between 37 and 47 years old and about 5 foot 7.

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

19 Investigates learned the medical examiner’s office reached out to the adult parole authority, since it looked like he had burglary tools on him.

They asked for a list of people on parole who were missing around that time.

“We were able to rule out who was still living, who was still incarcerated, and we whittled it down to about 4 names. But working with them gave us some priceless information. We just have to find those four people to see if he is one of them,” Fischer said.

This case could be solved. The lab needs DNA samples from family members to identify this man.

You can read more about his case here.

If he looks familiar, call the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office at 216-721-5610 and select 1, then ask for the Investigations Department.

Watch for our next Unidentified case next Friday.

We have profiled several cases here.

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

Copyright 2020 WOIO. All rights reserved.