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Home » News » Crime

December 03. 2013 12:59PM

Authorities in Salem hope pictures will solve 44-year-old murder mystery

Forensic artist Harvey Pratt of the Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation created this reconstruction of a murder victim found in Salem in 1969. 


SALEM - Authorities released pictures of the facial reconstruction of an unknown man who was found murdered 44 years ago in Salem in hopes that someone will be able to identify him.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joseph A. Foster and Salem Police Chief Paul T. Donovan said the man's partially decomposed body was found Aug. 7, 1969, by a road crew in a small pit of water off Interstate 93 in Salem.

He had been shot four times. He was shot twice in the head, and two other rounds pierced his torso and chest. The murder victim was estimated to be between 28 and 40 years old at the time of his death, 5-foot-10 and weighed 225 pounds. Authorities said despite exhaustive efforts, investigators were never able to identify him.

Police, in conjunction with the N.H. Attorney General's Office, reopened the unsolved homicide a year ago. In an effort to identify the man, his body was exhumed last year and re-examined.

The postmortem examination was conducted by state Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Jennie V. Duval. Additionally, Dr. Marcella H. Sorg, a forensic anthropologist, also examined the body.

As a result of the exhumation and the re-examinations, a number of the victim's bones were sent to the FBI Nuclear DNA Unit in hopes DNA could be extracted and then entered into the National Missing Persons DNA Database, which assists in the identification of missing persons and unidentified human remains.

The victim's skull was sent to forensic artist Harvey Pratt of the Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation. He is considered one of the leading forensic artists in the country.

Pratt spent more than 42 years in law enforcement, completing thousands of drawings based on witness descriptions and hundreds of soft tissue reconstructions. His work has assisted in thousands of arrests and hundreds of identifications of unidentified human remains throughout the United States.

At the request of Salem police, he performed a skull reconstruction of the unidentified male victim. That identification was based on the victim's soft tissue depth at various locations of the skull. The tissue depth depends on age, sex, race and body density, all of which was approximated through the forensic anthropology exam that was performed by Dr. Sorg.

The finished results are depicted in the pictures authorities released.

Investigators hope by releasing them, someone who knew him will come forward. Anyone with information regarding the man's identity or with information concerning what happened to him is asked to contact Salem police detective Michael White at 890-2383.

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