New Jersey

Police Hope New Image Will Help Solve Decades-Old Murder Case

"Being that it's skeletal remains, they're not sure of an actual time of death."

In the early 1970s, a man's body ended up in a wooded area of a small New Jersey town. How it got there, no one knows. His skull had been pierced by a bullet, and his body lay there for years before being found.

The discovery finally came in 1979, but for more than 40 years, this man remained nameless - and faceless. Now police have finally put a face to their mystery man, and they're hoping the public can help them identify him in order to solve the cold case murder.

New Jersey State Police Detective John Weber said the man's body was found Nov. 21, 1979 in Downe Township, in Cumberland County. But because only his skeleton was discovered, it's likely he had been laying there for years prior.

"Being that it's skeletal remains, they're not sure of an actual time of death. It could have been as early as the early 1970s or 1974," Weber said.

Back in those days, technological limitations meant officials could not piece together an image of the body before them.

But a lot has changed in the nearly 40 years since.

With the help of the Southern Regional Medical Examiner's Office, the man now has a face, and police a possible clue to their decades-old cold case.

When he died, the man was likely anywhere between 17 and 25 years old, the NJSP said. Homicide detectives believe he was biracial or possibly of Mediterranean descent.

The new image, they hope, will encourage people to come forward, perhaps helping them to identify the man. "Identifying the victim is a huge hurdle here before we can go anywhere," Weber said.

A positive ID won't necessarily solve the case, but it will help, the detective added.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NJSP Homicide South Unit at 609-561-1800, extension 3355 or to contact the Southern Regional Medical Examiner's Office at 609-861-3355.

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