Mystery of dead individual complicated by body’s deterioration

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WASHINGTON, Utah - Detectives in Washington City are at a standstill in the investigation into a body found in the Virgin River last week, and they said without more information on the victim’s identity, they’re stuck.

A local resident spotted the body floating in the river on Friday, but four days later, police still don’t know who it is. After being in the river, and the elements, the condition of the body was too deteriorated to for it to be identified.

The age, gender, and identification of the victim could not be initially determined,” said Washington City Police public information officer Ed Kantor. “We are waiting for the results of the forensic examination from the state medical examiner’s office.”

That’s where the body was taken after it was recovered last week. Kantor said detectives have done some preliminary work, but without answers to those basic questions, they don’t have much direction. Police said they aren’t even sure how long the victim had been there.

“That’s one of the things the medical examiner will help establish,” Kantor said. “The length of time the body had been either deceased or at that location.”

But Kantor said one thing investigators are sure of, the victim didn’t die at the spot they were found.

“It was probably transported by current, river current, water flow from an unknown location up-stream,” Kantor said.

While they wait for the results of the medical examination, detectives have reached out to nearby agencies to check on missing person reports. That will give them an idea of who it could be, but mostly, they’re forced to wait.

“In this particular investigation, the results of that examination are going to be vital in identifying who the individual was,” Kantor said.

No word on when that autopsy may be complete, it all depends on the workload in the medical examiner’s office.