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Dead men lack identities 25 years later

They may have lain there for a year or more before the two turkey hunters stumbled upon their badly decomposed bodies on Nov. 10, 1988, near the Ladysmith exit of Interstate 95.

Twenty-five years later, Virginia State Police have revealed that the two men, probably related to each other, were murdered.

But they need the public’s help in identifying them.

To that end, the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office in Richmond released a facial approximation Tuesday for one of the men, essentially a model of what the victim may have looked like based on skeletal features.

The ME’s office provided similar facial models for four other unidentified victims, whose remains were found elsewhere in central Virginia since 2007.

But the oldest case addressed Tuesday involved the men found in Caroline County, near the 112 mile marker.

The two hunters reported the find around 8:30 a.m. in a wooded area about 75 yards east of I–95, according to an article in the Nov. 11, 1988, edition of The Free Lance–Star.

Virginia State Police Senior Special Agent James Lyons would not elaborate at a news conference in Richmond Tuesday, but said that the two men were definitely victims of homicide.

“We do have a cause of death and a manner of death, and we have evidence left at the scene that we have in our possession,” he said. “But first, we need to find out who they are.”

The men are believed to be of Hispanic descent, based on their clothing, and DNA analysis suggests that the pair are related, possibly a parent and child, Lyons said.

The first victim is described as a male between the ages of 17 and 25 years old, weighing approximately 135 pounds and standing about 5 feet 2 inches tall.

He wore a blue and gray short-sleeved V-neck shirt with the label “TRAX” on it and blue Rustler jeans with the cuffs folded. He was also wearing a brand-new pair of red and black cowboy boots, size 81/2.

The second victim, whose facial approximation had not been completed, is believed to have been between 35 and 45 years old, weighing between 135 and 150 pounds and standing between 5 feet 3 inches and 5 feet 7 inches tall. He was found wearing a gray, white and navy-blue plaid short-sleeved shirt with pearl buttons over a navy-blue long-sleeved shirt and brown denim Rustler pants. He was wearing tan cowboy boots and a brown leather belt with “SILVANO” tooled in the leather and had two baseball caps, one blue and one red.

He was also wearing a religious medallion with the figure of Archangel San Miguel. “Ar Defendednos” was on one side and the figure of Mary with the words “Sta. Maria de Guadalupe Ruega por Nosotros” on the other side: Santa Maria de Guadalupe Pray for Us.

His belt buckle featured the image of a man with an eagle-like headdress and the word Mexico on the front.

Lyons said the remains were so decomposed, they could have been there for a year or more.

The other four facial approximations that were unveiled included two bodies from Richmond found in 2011 and 2012, one found in Petersburg in 2012 and one in Dinwiddie in 2007.

All of the facial approximations and some case information can be found in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, known as the NamUs database. The NamUs database is searchable by anyone, but sensitive case data can be restricted and only available to authorized personnel.

According to the NamUs database, there are 276 unidentified remains in Virginia, dating back to the 1960s. There are more than 40,000 unidentified remains nationwide.

Anyone with information on any of these cases is asked to contact the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond at 804/786-3174 or the Virginia State Police at 804/553-3408 for the Caroline case.

Portsia Smith: 540/374-5419