Unidentified: Body found by a boater in Lake Erie is still unidentified six years later

Unidentified series searches for answers for families
Updated: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:27 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Tips coming into investigators haven’t been enough to solve the case of a body found by a boater in Lake Erie six years later.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office has more than 50 cases of unidentified bodies, and this man is one of them.

19 Investigates is profiling several cases.

A boater in Lake Erie found a man’s body in May of 2014 inside a break wall at Burke Lakefront Airport.

He wasn’t recognizable after six months in the water.

“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.

Fischer is piecing the clues together, trying to figure out who he was.

19 Investigates found he is one of the most recent cases still unidentified at the medical examiner’s office.

“My supervisor developed a DNA profile for him, and he was entered into CODIS, no matches,” Fischer said.

CODIS is a national DNA database maintained by the FBI that helps investigators find missing people.

Fischer said this man was 45 to 58 years old, 5′3″ to 5′11″ tall and they don’t know his weight.

He didn’t have teeth and may have worn dentures.

One clue that stands out is his nose has been broken at least once.

That detail was highlighted by the forensic sketch artist.

Fischer said forensic sketches are not meant to be a portrait of people, but a likeness.

“We have gotten so many good tips on him that we have pursued. We have done at least 10 different family relation tests,” she said.

But they have had no luck, even after looking into missing people in other cities along Lake Erie.

Investigators also studied weather patterns.

“On his case we worked with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the FBI, the Weather Association, to get tide patterns and weather when he might have gone missing. We worked with Detroit Police, since the flow of Lake Erie is from Detroit down around Cleveland, and we have nothing,” Fischer said.

He could be from another country and came to Cleveland on a ship or working on the docks.

Fischer said they have tapped all of their resources trying to figure out who he was.

“Without a sample from the missing person or a relative of the missing person to compare the DNA to, there’s nothing that can be done,” she said.

There is one more clue. This man was wearing black steel toe boots made in Canada when he was found. But they’re also sold in the United States.

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.

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

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