Lifestyle & Human Interest

Drought Reveals Barrel Containing Human Remains at Popular Lake: Police Say It's Just the Beginning


Las Vegas has been experiencing a severe drought — and while it’s always relatively dry, being a desert, this drought is exposing some dark secrets.

On Sunday, one of those secrets came in the form of a decades-old, rusted-out barrel that became visible as the water of Lake Mead continued to drop.

Boaters out for a Sunday afternoon came across the spot near the Hemenway Harbor boat ramp at about 3 p.m. Locals were quickly alerted to the grisly find.

“We heard a woman scream from the side of the beach and then my husband went over to obviously see what was wrong,” Shawna Hollister, who’d been nearby, said.

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“And then he realized there was a body there in a barrel.

“It’s heartbreaking to see that somebody’s loved one that’s out there, so, I mean I hope they get justice or somebody finds out at least who it is.”

It will take quite a bit of work to connect the dots and get a positive ID on the body, which was determined to belong to a male who had been shot — but with all the records and technological advancements we’ve made since the unknown victim’s demise, it’s certainly not an impossibility.

Initially, authorities guessed that the body had been in the barrel since the ’80s, based on the evidence they found with the remains, but as the investigation continued they realized the case could date back even further.

“The victim’s clothes and shoes were sold at Kmart in the mid-to-late 1970s,” Lt. Ray Spencer with the Las Vegas Metro Police told KLAS.

The place where the barrel was found would have been dozens of feet under water in the ’70s and ’80s — and according to Spencer, there are probably other gravesites lurking in the area.

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“It’s going to be a very difficult case,” he told KLAS.

“I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find, you know, additional human remains.

“I think anybody can understand there are probably more bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead, it’s just a matter of, are we able to recover those?”

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