Police reveal cause of death for victim found in barrel at Lake Mead

A traffic sign warns of low water levels at Lake Mead in Boulder City, Nev., on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. Bill Clark / Getty Images

The body found in a barrel at the bottom of Nevada’s drought-stricken Lake Mead is that of a man who was shot to death, police confirmed Tuesday.

Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that, based on the shoes that were on the skeletal remains, they believe the killing likely happened sometime between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s.

Boaters on the lake spotted an old rusted barrel on Sunday afternoon. National Park Service rangers attending to the area discovered human remains inside.

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Spencer said the shoes the man was wearing were sold at Kmart in the mid-to-late 1970s.

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He also told KLAS-TV earlier this week that police are prepared for similar findings in the future.

“I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains,” he said.

Spencer told CNN that the barrel would have been dropped hundreds of metres offshore, likely from a boat, but because the lake has receded so much in that time, that area is now considered shoreline.

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Lake Mead and Lake Powell upstream are the largest human-made reservoirs in the U.S., part of a system that provides water to more than 40 million people, tribes, agriculture and industry in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and across the southern border in Mexico.

The lake’s level has dropped so much that the uppermost water intake at Lake Mead became visible last week.

The reservoir on the Colorado River behind Hoover Dam has become so depleted that Las Vegas is now pumping water from deeper within Lake Mead, which also stretches into Arizona.

Shawna Hollister was enjoying a day at the lake when the barrel was discovered.

“We heard a woman scream from the side of the beach and then my husband went over to obviously see what was wrong,” Hollister told KLAS-TV. “And then he realized there was a body there in a barrel.”

Local coroners are working to determine the identity of the man whose body was found.

With files from the Associated Press


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