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Unsolved: Chippewa County’s John Doe

We caution you, the video contains images of human remains.

It’s been 57 years since hunters made an unsettling discovery in the woods of Chippewa County.

They came across a man’s body near Trout Lake, but the remains are still unidentified more than half a century later.

The woods of Trout Lake in western Chippewa County are a sportsman’s paradise, and on Nov. 11, 1966 a group of hunters were preparing for what they hoped would be another successful season, when they made a grisly discovery.

“Found human remains that had clearly been drug and hidden underneath the tree. The troopers originally arrived on scene and found what they believed to be a white male that has deceased from a number of apparent gunshots. The remains were fairly decomposed,” said D/Sgt. Gary Demers with the Michigan State Police.

Investigators would eventually determine the man was shot at least five times with a .22 caliber firearm.

“An autopsy was conducted and it was clear that multiple gunshots were the cause of death. They did the dental work for the individual. Way back in 1966, there was no DNA. So it’s not like it is today. So their first attempts in any homicide case is to try to identify the victim,” explained Demers.

But that is where detectives would get stuck.

“Numerous attempts through years of work were unsuccessful and able to identify this John Doe, victim of homicide. Eventually, the case went cold. A number of tips were called in and run down that did not reveal the identity of John Doe,” said Demers.

A sketch was developed of the man, possibly in his mid-20′s -- who stood between 5 foot 8 inches and 5 foot 9 inches and had a medium build with brown hair with a slight reddish tint. Some items found at the scene did offer some clues about where this man may have been from.

“You know, in his pockets was a number of coins, both some American and some Canadian coins that were found upon this person. Also, a set of keys with a leather like a leather keychain has were found in his pocket. His clothing led investigators to believe at the time that possibly he may have come from an area or farm country, kind of like a western style of clothing that was found upon this person.

There’s information that back in those times there were kind of groups of individuals that work for logging companies that would kind of travel around the Upper Peninsula. There were logging companies that were working in that area at that time that had workers from out of the area,” said Demers.

The case would also suffer a major setback.

“We were advised that the cemetery that he was buried in in 1967, downstate, had a flood of there, a water flood inside the records department, and destroyed the section of records where his burial was recorded. So we have identified the cemetery that he’s buried in downstate, but are unable to determine exactly which plot he’s in to do an examination to then begin our DNA work,” said Demers.

Still, State Police believe the case can be solved.

“We do have dental records. We do dental examinations and have those records. So if a person who is named to us has information from a dental office, we would be able to match up those dental records. There’s hope that some family member is going to be on NamUs’ website or hear the story about this case and understand and realize that they had a missing uncle, they had a missing brother, they had a missing whoever the this person could possibly be,” said Demers.

If you have any information on who this John Doe is, contact Michigan State Police at 906-643-7582.