Human bodies continue to emerge as the water level of the nation’s largest man-made reservoir recedes due to drought.
Human remains have been discovered in Lake Mead near Las Vegas for the second time in seven days.
Human skeletal remains were discovered near Callville Bay on Lake Mead around 2 p.m. Saturday, according to National Park Service rangers. The remains were collected by the Clark County Medical Examiner, who is working to identify the person and determine the cause of death.
According to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the discovery came a week after the decayed body of a man was discovered stuffed in a steel barrel near the reservoir’s Hemenway Fishing Pier, more than 20 miles from Callville. “We believe this is a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound,” Lt. Ray Spencer, the LVMPD’s homicide section chief, said of the body discovered on May 1.
The Clark County Medical Examiner is attempting to identify the body, according to Spencer. Based on his clothing and footwear, detectives believe the man was murdered between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s.
Concerning the second body discovered on Saturday, LVMPD officials stated on Monday that no evidence of foul play has been discovered.
Two sisters, Lindsey and Lynette Melvin, discovered the skeletal remains on Saturday while paddle-boarding on the lake because the water was too shallow for snorkeling. The sisters told ABC affiliate KTNV in Las Vegas that they discovered the skeletal remains while exploring a sand bar that used to be underwater before a prolonged drought reduced the water table to historic lows.
The sister initially thought it was the remains of a big horn sheep. They then discovered a human jawbone with teeth still attached, which they reported to National Park Service rangers.
“We just really hope that that person’s family finally gets answers and that their soul is laid to rest peacefully,” Lynette Melvin said.
The sisters grew up in Las Vegas and heard stories about Mafia hitmen dumping bodies in the lake.
According to Geoff Schumacher, a mob historian and vice president of exhibits and programs at the Mob Museum in Las Vegas, the discovery of the bodies, particularly the man found in the barrel, has reignited those rumors.
“Certainly, Las Vegas has a history with the mob, and there have been people who have gone missing in this area who may have been victims of mob violence over the years. But I don’t recall a case like this, where we discovered a body in a barrel floating in Lake Mead “According to Schumacher.
According to Schumacher, putting a body in a barrel is a classic mob technique dating back to the 1880s.
He cited the case of Chicago gangster John “Handsome Johnny” Roselli, who aided the mob’s control of Hollywood and the Las Vegas Strip. Roselli vanished after testifying before the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 1975 about an alleged plot to assassinate President John F. Kennedy.
Roselli’s decomposing remains were discovered in 1976 inside a 55-gallon steel barrel found floating in Dumfoundling Bay near Miami by a fisherman. Roselli died of asphyxiation, according to an autopsy.
Schumacher noted that the slain man discovered in a barrel in Lake Mead this month may have been killed in the 1970s or 1980s based on his clothing and shoes, and that the mob was active in Las Vegas during that time period.
“There was a lot of conflict, and I would not be surprised if it was the victim of mob violence,” Schumacher explained.
He predicted that as the reservoir formed by Hoover Dam on the Colorado River continues to recede, more shocking discoveries, such as the wreckage of a B-29 bomber that crashed in the lake in 1947, would emerge.
“There’s probably a bunch of sunken boats out there as well,” Schumacher added. “Who knows what else people have thrown into the water over the years, both physical objects and bodies.”