New technology gives face to 1989 murder victim exhumed in Sumner for possible ID

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PIERCE COUNTY — Deep in the ground of a cemetery, new clues have been unearthed in a cold case murder shrouded in mystery since 1989.

The body of that homicide victim was exhumed from a Sumner cemetery back in march. Now, detectives hope they’re one step closer to identifying who he is — and catching his killer.

“We found him on the banks of the Carbon River. He died from what appeared to be an obvious stab wound. We never found out who he was,” says Pierce County Det. Ed Troyer.

The photos above are digital reconstructions of what he may have looked like at the time he was murdered back in 1989.

We first featured this case in March, when detectives and members of the medical examiner`s office spent a foggy morning at the cemetery exhuming his body. Det. Troyer says, “We exhumed the body because it was an unsolved homicide and we didn`t know who the victim was, so it`s hard to find out who killed somebody when we don`t know who he was, where he was, what he was doing, what may have led up to the person`s death.”

The man's DNA has since been entered into a national database. It falls to the families, though, of missing people to contact police so they can give their DNA. “Not only do we have this technology that may help identify what he looks like, but we also have blood and DNA work that we are doing that we`ll be able to compare to possible relatives.” Forensic Anthropologist Kathy Taylor adds, “People need to understand if they reported people missing in the ‘60’s, ‘70’s or ‘80’s, call law enforcement and make sure that that report still exists and then say, ‘Hey, can I give my DNA?”

Investigators are hopeful this murder victim's family has already given DNA, so detectives can not only identify him, but also shine light on this 25 year mystery -- and ultimately catch his killer. “So, in order to actually investigate it as a homicide, we have to determine who it is, so that`s what we`re in the process of doing now,” says Det. Troyer. “That`s why we exhumed the body to put these new technologies to work to see if we can help get him identified.”

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