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Clark County Coroner describes task of identifying remains at Lake Mead |

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Clark County Coroner describes task of identifying remains at Lake Mead

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) -- The Clark County Coroner's Office has its hands full on a regular basis, but now with two skeletal remains found at Lake Mead, they are continuing to pour in all their resources to help identify them.

However, it will be a lengthy process until we know who they are, and there is a chance we may never know.

The case of the bodies found at Lake Mead just six days apart has gained international attention.

First, a body was found in a barrel that was under the lake for decades. 

Though discovered in the spring of 2022, Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse believes this person could have been there for at least 40 years. 

"We did determine it was an adult male, we did determine based on clothing that the time frame was consistent with the 70s and 80s, and the cause was a gunshot wound," said Rouse. 

Just six days after that first body was found, skeletal remains were found under the sand. 

Both remains are now in the custody of the coroner's office. 

"We are optimistic that we are able to get DNA, however, that will be submitted to another agency to see if they are able to create a DNA profile," said Rouse. 

Rouse said that in both cases, they were able to find a good amount of DNA from the teeth and bones, but now it's just a matter of finding a match.

"You look for consistencies or points of concordance that could be matched up to determine if the individual's records you are reviewing when they were alive match what you are seeing at the time of their death," said Rouse.

If there are any matches, the coroner's office will rely on tips coming in. 

"What's challenging in this case because it does have such a prolonged interval is we may not have those comparatives available so we are relying on somebody at some point reporting a missing person and providing enough details that can be entered in," Rouse added.

She emphasizes it is too early to tell how the second person died, although they are not ruling out drowning. 

Rouse also said there is not a national database for dental records, but if they narrow down who these people could be, they could subpoena a dental office for their records and compare them. 

Currently, the biggest task is trying to find DNA from blood relatives.

After the coroner's office has exhausted all its options, the remains will go to a funeral home. 

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