Body discovered in Lake Mead confirmed by DNA to be man who went missing more than 20 years ago

Aisha Nozari

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Body discovered in Lake Mead confirmed by DNA to be man who went missing more than 20 years ago

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Over the summer, five sets of remains have been discovered in the reservoir, which straddles the states of Nevada and Arizona. Brutal droughts have shrunk Lake Mead’s shoreline, unearthing remains that have been hidden for decades. 

DNA testing has now confirmed that the second set of remains found this summer are those of 42-year-old Thomas Erndt, who reportedly drowned on 2 August 2002.

One of the sets of human remains found in Lake Mead has been identified. Credit: mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
One of the sets of human remains found in Lake Mead has been identified. Credit: mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Erndt’s skeleton was discovered stuck in mud by paddle boarders back in May.

A Clark County Office of Communications & Strategy official confirmed this week that the remains near Callville Bay on 7 May were identified as Erndt’s by the Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner.

Dan Kulin, a Public Information Administrator for the Clark County Office of Public Communications, said in a press release: “Mr. Erndt was 42 years old at the time of his reported drowning on Aug. 2, 2002.”

A cause of death has yet to be determined. 

So far, no other remains apart from Erndt's have been officially identified. 

The first set of remains were found in a barrel on 1 May. The partially decomposed barrel was riddled with bullet holes leading officials to suspect homicide was the cause of death.

The third and fourth sets of remains, discovered on 25 July and 6 August respectively, are thought to be from the same person. 

Speaking to Las Vegas news station KLAS earlier this month, the family of army veteran Kenneth Funk - who drowned saving his wife's life nearly 20 years ago - said the remains look like their loved one.

A barrel containing human remains was discovered at Lake Mead earlier this summer. Credit: Shawna Elizabeth Hollister/Facebook
A barrel containing human remains was discovered at Lake Mead earlier this summer. Credit: Shawna Elizabeth Hollister/Facebook

Jessica Condon, Funk's daughter, said: “[The torso is] built like my dad, the stomach, the chest, the back.”

She added: “The fact that these remains are coming up, if it is him, I want to do the right thing and take care of him."

Funk drowned on 16 June 2004 from a suspected heart attack and his body was never recovered. 

The fifth and most recent set of remains to be found were stumbled upon on 16 August, also near Boulder Beach, but no other details about this discovery have been made public yet. 

The lake’s water levels have reached historic lows in recent months amid what’s been described as a megadrought in America’s west.

On 15 August, the lake was at just 27 percent of its total water capacity.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Topics: News, US News, Environment

Aisha Nozari
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