In October 2008, a man was found hanging from a tree in the Thorn Creek Nature Preserve in Park Forest, Illinois. The unknown man was found in a wooded area several hundred yards from the roadway at 23450 Western Avenue.
Clothing and belongings were found with the man but there was no identifying information. Without an immediate identity, the unknown man became known as the “Hanging Man”. The man was wearing khaki pants, a short sleeve button down striped shirt, and a pair of size 13 State Street brand brown loafers, which contained significant tread wear. Near the unknown man’s body was a green day pack, a plastic bag marked “Joe and Frank’s Famous Homemade Sausage”, a Zippo lighter marked with the word “Poland” and a Polish flag. Investigators believe that the man had died approximately three months prior to his body being found.
Investigators estimated that the man was between 50 and 60 years old and was very tall, standing between approximately 6’3” and 6'5" in height. His hair was a mix of Sandy Brown and gray, and between one and two inches in length. The man also appeared to have frontal and top balding on his scalp. There was evidence of extensive dental care and multiple healed fractures on bones throughout his body. Additionally, investigators noted that nicotine had been found in his system.
For over a decade, investigators have diligently pursued various leads on the case. Local law enforcement did not find any missing persons records that matched the details of this case and a fingerprint search returned no matches as well. Some of the remains were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for potential DNA testing work. In May 2009, the case was entered into NamUs as #UP5263. In spite of exhaustive efforts, investigators were unable to develop new leads and the case eventually went cold.
In 2021, the Will County Coroner’s Office partnered with Othram to determine if advanced forensic DNA testing could help establish an identity for the man or a close relative. If anyone has information that could aid this investigation, they are encouraged to contact the Will County Coroner’s Office at 815-727-8455 and reference case number 08-0354 or NamUs ID #UP5263. Will County Coroner's office has contributed some of the funding to support this case and a DNASolves crowdfund has been created to raise funds for the remaining casework costs. Anyone can contribute here.