MARCO ISLAND — Working with few leads, Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigators seek assistance from a forensic artist to help identify the man whose remains were found by two fishermen north of Goodland in late May.
Collier County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Michelle Batten reported Wednesday that fingerprint examinations led to no matches found in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s fingerprint database.
Detectives hope civilian volunteer and forensic artist Tricia Blair, who may only have a few details to go on when using the skeletal remains of the man, will be able to recreate a resemblance of his face.
Investigators reported several characteristics of the man including that he was estimated to be about between 5-feet, 11-inches and 6-feet, 2-inches tall. He appeared to be missing an upper front tooth and may have had an abscess in his lower left jaw. He had a surgically inserted metal pin in his left hand.
The man was wearing extra-large-size black cotton shorts that tied at the waist and possibly had paint stains, investigators said.
His race and age have yet to be determined.
“There have been no new developments. We’re working on a skeletal survey through the medical examiner’s office to document old injuries,” Batten said.
Blair’s ability to reconstruct a facial resemblance of the man may be the key to bringing someone forward from the public who recognizes any of the features she is able to render of him.
She has worked as a forensic artist previously for the San Bernardino (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office, Batten has reported. Blair has been volunteering a couple of days each week for the last several months with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office’s Major Crimes Bureau.
Blair said she didn’t have enough information as of Thursday to determine if she could help with this case, as she is currently working on recreating the resemblance of a male who was found in 2006.
Batten said detectives are approaching Blair to see if she will have enough information to create a drawing or sculpture and are looking for any leads that may help them discover the identity and or cause of death of the man found near Goodland.
Edward Griffin, 52, of Naples and friend A.V. Robertson of La Belle, Fla., were the men who found the body drooped face-up in the mangroves after fishing near Goodland on May 30.
Griffin described the skin as white, but said he couldn’t be sure due to the extent of decomposition. He and Robertson found the man’s body off a path along State Road 92, south of U.S. 41, a couple miles northwest of the Goodland Bridge.
The man was located closer to the roadway than the water and not in a place Griffin has said would normally be walked.
Griffin suspected the man’s body may have been dumped, however investigators are not yet sure whether to suspect a homicide or wrongful death.
The severity of decomposition did not allow Collier County Medical Examiner to determine the cause or manner of death following the autopsy, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristi Lester has said.
“We’re hoping we can find out who this is so we can get closer to finding out what might have happened to this person,” Batten said.
Griffin has said he will be paying close attention to any news reported on the case, hoping to get some closure.
The deceased body had “no hair, no shoes, no pants, just dark shorts, like under-shorts,” he said.
The body was in a culvert about 100 feet from State Road 92, about six miles north of the Goodland Bridge. Other than the black shorts on the body, no other clothing was found on or near the body, officers wrote in the incident report.
The culvert was behind a large transformer tower on the south side of the road, officers reported.
Investigators continue asking for the public’s help in identifying the man. Anyone with information is asked to call the Collier County Sheriff’s Office at 252-9300, or if you wish to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477).