40 Years Later, Headless Torso Found in Cave Identified

It took a lot of work to finally ID the body as that of an outlaw who killed his wife in Idaho
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2020 9:35 AM CST
40 Years Later, Headless Torso Found in Cave Identified
This undated composite sketch provided by Anthony Redgrave, courtesy of Lee Bingham Redgrave, shows Joseph Henry Loveless.   (Anthony Redgrave/Courtesy of Lee Bingham Redgrave via AP)

The headless torso that was found in a remote Idaho cave 40 years ago has finally been identified as belonging to an outlaw who killed his wife with an ax and was last seen after escaping from jail in 1916, the AP reports. Clark County Sheriff Bart May said Tuesday that the cold case will remain open because investigators don't yet know who killed Joseph Henry Loveless. Still, they were able to notify one of Loveless' surviving relatives, an 87-year-old grandson, of his fate. For investigators, the mystery began when a family hunting for arrowheads in Buffalo Cave near Dubois, Idaho, on Aug. 26, 1979, found his remains wrapped in burlap and buried in a shallow grave. Few additional clues turned up until March 30, 1991, when a girl exploring the same cave system found a mummified hand. Investigators then found an arm and two legs nearby, also wrapped in burlap.

Local authorities turned to Idaho State University for help, and over the subsequent years anthropology students and staffers from ISU worked on the case. No other remains were ever found, however, and without the head, identifying the John Doe of Buffalo Cave seemed unlikely. But last year, ISU and Clark County authorities asked the DNA Doe Project for help. The non-profit organization uses DNA data to identify John and Jane Does in hopes of returning their remains to their families. Experts from Othram, a technology company focused on forensic DNA sequencing, analyzed a sample taken from the remains. Then Lee Bingham Redgrave, a forensic genealogist with DNA Doe Project, worked with her colleagues to build a “genealogical tree.” (The tree was huge—and "very unusual." Click for the full story, which has "blown everyone's minds.")

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