Skeletal Remains Found Along Receding Lake Near Las Vegas Apparently Belong To Victim of A Gangland Hit

Thanks to an ongoing "megadrought" in that part of the USA, the skeleton found a week ago in a metal storage container along the receding shoreline of Lake Mead— the reservoir formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River in the Southwestern United States about 40 miles east of Las Vegas—is the remains of a victim of what appears to have been a mob hit, according to Las Vegas police.

Skeletal remains found along Lake Mead
The remains belong to the victim of a gunshot wound several decades back. Source: Daily Mail

The man (though some reports claim the sex has not been identified yet) died from a gunshot wound sometime in the mid-1970s or early 80s. The timeframe for the murder apparently is based on the sneakers found on the skeleton, which were sold and manufactured by Kmart in the mid to late '70s.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police released a statement confirming previous comments that the death of the man in the barrel is being investigated as a homicide

"We're going to expand our time frame of the murder to the middle to late 1970s to early '80s," Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vergas Metropolitan Police told the Las Vegas Review Journal.

Since the victim was killed in the 1970s-1980s in an area near Las Vegas, where mob-connected casinos dominated the Strip, investigators will “definitely not rule out” that the killing may have been Mafia-related, Lieutenant Spencer said.

Experts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will help them identify the remains and determine the age of the barrel’s metal, Lieutenant Spencer said.

The barrel was found embedded in mud along Lake Mead's shoreline, which has been receding because of “drought and climate change,” according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The current period is described as the driest two decades in 1,200 years.

The drop in the lake’s water level could result in other bodies being found at the lake.

Rangers with the National Park Service find one or two bodies at Lake Mead every year, according to reports.

According to reports, the skeleton was visible via a corroded opening in the rusted metal barrel. The victim's shirt and belt were still clinging to the skeletal frame. The barrel was exposed as the lake's water level continues to plummet amid an ongoing drought.

"Had the lake never receded, we would never have discovered the body," Lt. Spencer said.

Spencer told the Las Vegas Review Journal that the barrel could have been dumped into the lake over the side of a boat.

The barrel was discovered about 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon by people walking along the shoreline of Lake Mead — America’s largest man-made reservoir. They saw the corroded, rusted barrel embedded in mud, Lieutenant Spencer said. While the sun shined on nearby boaters floating in the water, they peeked their heads inside and discovered a skeleton.

The barrel was found last Sunday along Lake Mead. Source: Daily Mail

Witnesses called the National Park Service, which responded and confirmed that the contents were in fact human remains, Lieutenant Spencer said. The National Park Service then called the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, which is investigating.

Investigators plan to scan missing-person cases from the 1980s to search for clues, Lieutenant Spencer added. The investigation could take years because the police are starting “at square one,” Lieutenant Spencer said.

Spencer said that investigators have already set to work identifying the victim.

"In the 1980s, we did not have any of the DNA databases, so there was no DNA collection," Spencer said, adding that if DNA can be extracted from the bones, the required genealogy work will be extensive.

Since 2000, the elevation of Lake Mead has dropped by nearly 150 feet because of “drought and climate change,” according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. This period is now the driest two decades in 1,200 years and is considered a megadrought.

Recent conditions have resulted in more significant water level declines. On Sunday, the Southern Nevada Water Authority issued mandatory summer water restrictions.

Read about the mob in Vegas: