In October 2005, a 55-gallon oil drum was found partially submerged in a shallow creek on private property in Clarence, a small community in rural Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. A portion of the oil drum had rusted out exposing skeletonized human remains encased in cement. The discovery was made by the property owner’s son. The Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory was able to remove the remains from the surrounding cement and they were submitted to the LSU Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory for assistance with identification. The man's manner of death was determined to be homicide.
The remains were determined to belong to a black male who was approximately 18 to 30 years old and 5’6” to 5’10” in height. It was determined that the man had been deceased for as few as one and as many as twenty-five years. A cotton-blend shirt and medium Hanes brand boxer shorts were the only personal items recovered. LSU FACES utilized advanced forensic imaging and facial reconstruction to create an image depicting what the man may have looked like during his life in hopes that it would generate leads in the case.
Multiple individuals have been ruled out as being Natchitoches Parish John Doe. Dental x-rays of the decedent were utilized for comparison, eventually ruling out the man’s identity as that of Lester Davis and Jeremiah Parker. The case was featured in the film series, “The Killing Fields” where standard DNA testing excluded the possibility that the remains belonged to Curtis “Cochise” Smith. In 2008, details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as case number #UP846. Despite law enforcement's exhaustive efforts to identify the man, the case has gone cold.
In 2023, the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office teamed with Othram to generate new leads in the case using advanced DNA technology and forensic genetic genealogy. Anyone with information that could aid in the investigation is encouraged to contact the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office by calling 318-357-2260 and referencing case number J-00506-05.
A DNASolves crowdfund has been created to raise funds for the casework costs. Anyone can contribute here. We are grateful for everyone's support!