John Doe #44

A facial reconstruction of John Doe #44, who was found in the Marana area in 1991. 

A murder case that went cold almost 30 years ago could see new developments, thanks to modern forensic investigation technology.

A burned and unrecognizable male body was discovered in the desert near Dove Mountain Boulevard and West Tangerine Road on July 23, 1991. The Pima County Sheriff’s Department handled the investigation. An autopsy showed that the man, currently identified as John Doe #44, died as a result of a shooting. The case went unsolved after no leads were established.

Marana police reopened the investigation last year “to try different and new investigative techniques in an attempt to identify John Doe #44,” according to a department press release. MPD exhumed the body last May and requested a “facial approximation” from the Federal Bureau of Investigation which has been released to the public.

A Forensic Anthropologist from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner identified John Doe #44 as “a Hispanic male, approximately 65 inches tall, 140 pounds, between the ages of 25-45. He was wearing a blue or green pull-over shirt, Levi Straus denim jeans and size 34 Calvin Klein undershorts at the time of his death. He was also wearing cowboy boots and white socks with blue stripes.”

These are all crucial details that could lead to identifying the man and solving the case.

MPD Sergeant Jeff Pridgett said when police first found the burned body in 1991 they misclassified him as a Caucasian male. He was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as such. If a family member or friend was looking for him and searched for a Hispanic male, they wouldn’t find a match in the database.

“Now, with us being able to identify him as a Hispanic male, that information has been updated in [NamUs] and they may get a hit on him,” Pridgett said. “And now with the FBI’s facial reconstruction someone might be able to recognize him.”

Pridgett said that these kinds of developments don’t happen very often, and the last time they used forensic analysis to identify a body was five or six years ago.

If you have any information about the identity of John Doe #44, the Marana Police Department asks you to contact them at 382-2000 or 88-CRIME.

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