By ED RUNYAN
In a cold-case investigation worthy of television, Trumbull County officials unveiled an FBI reconstruction of the head of the man whose skeleton was found along Mosquito Lake on July 23, 2006.
The bones of the black male, who was thought to be about 50 years old and roughly 5-feet-8-inches (plus or minus 3 inches) tall, were found mostly intact in a marshy area on the north side of the Mosquito Lake dam along state Route 305.
The body, thought to have been left there about six to eight months earlier — the previous winter — had no clothing, but a gold earring with yellow and clear stones in it was found in a location that suggests the man was wearing it.
Detective Joe Sofchek, of the Bazetta Township Police Department, and Trumbull County Coroner Dr. Humphrey Germaniuk believe the reconstruction is accurate enough that anyone who knew the man should recognize the face. They hope someone will call Bazetta police to help identify the remains.
The phone number is 330-638-5503.
Police used several methods of identification — DNA and dental records, for instance — and got no match, Sofchek said.
The lack of a DNA match suggests that the man had not been to prison in recent years because prison inmates since about 1990 have been required to provide a DNA sample that is kept in a federal database.
As for tips called in to police since 2006, all of the missing persons were females, Sofcheck said.
“The fact that nobody called [about a black male] leads us to believe he’s from outside the area,” Dr. Germaniuk said, adding that he hopes the reconstruction will be shown locally and outside the area so that whoever knew him will have a chance to see the photograph.
The television show “America’s Most Wanted” is interested in featuring the reconstruction on its broadcast, and other national shows are interested, Sofchek said.
The police department tracked down the local salesman who sold the earring, and he worked in Northeast Ohio and Northwestern Pennsylvania, Sofchek said.
There were no indications of trauma to the bones or other evidence that suggested that the man was murdered, but because of the location where the body was found, the death has been treated as a possible homicide, the coroner said.
There was no tissue left on the body, so there are many ways the man could have been killed that would not have left evidence behind, Dr. Germaniuk said.
Sofchek said he believes this is only the second FBI reconstruction that has been undertaken in Trumbull County history, but the detective said every resource available should be used to determine what happened to the man.
Another reason for going the extra mile, Sofchek said, is to show that the department is “doing our job and doing it right.”
Dr. Germaniuk said the reconstruction was done “to find out what happened so that justice and truth can be found.”
“He is someone. He belongs to someone. He once was someone,” he added.