Las Vegas, NV – Plummeting water levels at Lake Mead revealed a barrel with a body inside over the weekend, and police said they expect to find more as the level continues to drop further amid the persistent drought.
Investigators said the body, which was found inside a corroded barrel by a citizen at approximately 3 p.m. on May 1, belongs to an unidentified male gunshot victim who was likely murdered over 40 years ago and dumped into the nation’s largest reservoir, CNN reported.
“The victim’s clothes and shoes were sold at Kmart in the mid-to-late 1970s,” Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD) Homicide Lieutenant Ray Spencer told KLAS.
The barrel was found in a muddy area near the Hemenway Harbor boat ramp that would have been beneath several dozen feet of water in the 1970s and 1980s, according to investigators.
“The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years,” Lt. Spencer said, according to CNN. “The barrel was likely dropped hundreds of yards off the shore back then, but that area is now considered the shoreline.”
As the water continues to drop, “it’s likely that we will find additional bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead,” the lieutenant added.
Police said they believe the heavily-corroded barrel was fully intact when it was dumped into the lake decades ago, KLAS reported.
The victim’s clothing and other personal items found inside the barrel have helped investigators to develop a timeline, but the victim’s identity remains unknown.
“Identifying the person is going to be an extensive challenge at this point,” Lt. Spencer told KLAS.
Lake Mead’s water level was at approximately 1,054 feet above sea level as of May 2, which is about 160 feet below where it was in 2000 – the last time it was considered to be full, CNN reported.
The level recorded on Monday was a record low for the reservoir, which was first filled in the 1930s.