GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – A man beaten, burned and dumped in the woods in Greenville County — his body never identified. His killer escaped justice for 45 years and, now, investigators said they have a one in a million shot to thaw an impossibly cold case.
The brutal murder came at the beginning of a new year in early January 1975, near Highway 20.
A hunter notified police that he found something wrapped in plastic — a person who had been beaten and burned.
The man was described as young, probably in his early 20s, had dark skin and was approximately 5-foot-11 inches tall.
Other than that, no one knew the man whose remains were found.
The local paper ran pictures, but no family came forward to claim him. It was the dead of winter and the case quickly went cold.
The county then buried the man they call “Mister X’ in an anonymous grave.
Now, 45 years later, they’re digging him up.
“We’ve got some long bones that are still intact we’re hoping we can send that and teeth, if we can find some teeth,” Greenville County Coroner Parks Evans said.
It’s slow work looking for the smallest sliver of bone. They’re working by hand, like an archeological dig.
The coroner hopes they’ll recover enough of “Mister X” to pull DNA from his remains, and maybe get a lucky hit.
“It’s a million to one that we get a match,” Evans said.
They’ll ship what they recover to a lab in Denton, Texas.
Because so many people have volunteered to have DNA tested, there’s a chance they’ll hit on a family match, and, finally, put a name to a crime.
“When you are able to identify the person, then you start looking at this acquaintances and the people around him,” Evans said.
“We can see who his friends were, who his family were and maybe some people he had been around at the time, and, hopefully, get this identified and in custody,” Greenville County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Ryan Flood said.
Deputies did make an arrest back in 1975, but prosecutors dropped the charge.
Deputies still say they didn’t have the evidence at the time to make the case stick.
Now, by disturbing an unknown man’s final resting place, they hope to give a grieving family peace.
“We are putting our faith in the technology. We are putting our faith in the investigators at the coroner’s office and hoping and praying that we can get some answers for ‘Mister X’ and get him identified,” Flood said.