Rock Co. officials hoping for break in 20-year old cold case - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rock Co. officials hoping for break in 20-year old cold case

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ROCK COUNTY (WKOW) – Officials in Rock County are hoping for a break in a cold case two decades old.

In November, 1995, the body of a 16 to 20-year old male was found near Turtle Creek in Clinton. The young man has since been known as “John Clinton Doe.”

Witnesses in the area reported seeing a young man between 20 and 30-years old running near the creek and possibly intoxicated roughly one year earlier – in October of 1994.

It's long been suspected the latter man, dubbed “River Guy,” is the same person found deceased 11 months later. But Chief Deputy Coroner Louis Smit said he's hoping a recent round of testing can help confirm or deny that suspicion.

Last week investigators placed a device called a data logger at the spot where John Clinton Doe's body was found. The data logger recorded temperature and humidity each hour for one week. The results were sent to Dr. Arpad Vass, forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee.

According to a news release from the coroner's office, “utilizing recently developed formulas created by the University of Tennessee's Body Farm, where donated bodies were allowed to decompose while being monitored by faculty and students, Dr. Vass will use historical weather data, more specifically temperature and humidity, from the area, adjusted for the local conditions recorded at the scene, to calculate the minimum time John Clinton Doe's body would have had to been laying by the Creek.”

Smit said the results might demonstrate John Clinton Doe died roughly one year before being discovered – indicating he is likely the same man dubbed “River Guy,” or the results could prove the two are different individuals.

“This case is about as cold as you could make it, so we're trying to heat it up,” Smit said.

In the meantime, Smit said his office is hoping to exhume Doe's body for a second time to conduct more forensic testing on the bones. He said rapidly-evolving technology means more can be done to try and identify the young man.

Multiple sketches of Doe have been drawn, but Smit said the coroner's office is also hoping to construct a clay model of his head. He said a clay model can often be more recognizable than a drawing.

Smit said it's surprising that no one has come forward to positively identify Doe. He said roughly 100 missing persons have already been ruled out as matches.

“Because he's so young, it is curious we're not finding anybody who is looking for someone that meets his criteria,” Smit said.

Smit said two previous autopsies on Doe's remains have shown no signs of trauma or foul play.

But he said the cause and manner of death both remain undetermined – meaning the case will continue to be treated as a homicide.

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