New information in Mercer County homicide crime

CELINA, Ohio (WDTN) – Wednesday, Mercer County law enforcement released new details about an unsolved homicide case.

Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey shared gruesome details about the remains found near Grand Lake St. Mary in January of 2016 and said new technology is helping the department narrow down where the victim lived before his death.

Sheriff Grey said in a press conference Wednesday the department has been pouring resources into the case since the partially decomposed skeleton was discovered.

“I do not like that we have an unsolved homicide,” Grey said. “It haunts me. This is Mercer County. It’s not supposed to happen here.”

The sheriff revealed the unsettling reasons why the case is being called a homicide.

He said, “The body was clearly dismembered. The head was severed from the spinal column. We know that by saw marks on the spinal column.”

Grey also shared recent results from state of the art forensic testing.

Utah-based analysis company Iso Forensics tested the bones’ oxygen isotopes and was able to match regions in the country with similar chemical makeup.

The sheriff displayed a map with the locations shaded in blue. It showed a wide swath of possibilities from New England to the Great Lakes to the American Southwest. Two small points also marked Kentucky and Western Virginia.

Grey said a similar test from the same company will further narrow down the locations.

Since the investigation began, other forensics experts have been running test to pinpoint the victim’s identity.

They determined the body belongs to a man age 20 to 35 and recovered his complete DNA profile.

That DNA has not successfully returned any hits on national databases.

The department has also been calling on agencies around the country to see if any missing persons match the victim’s description. So far, that route has not yielded new leads.

Mercer County is actively investigating 12 of 31 different tips called in from the public. The sheriff said he couldn’t quantify the time his staff is spending on the investigation and pledged to exhaust all possible avenues.

“If it isn’t solved,” he said, “it won’t be because of a lack of effort.”

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