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Skeleton Found with Russian Coins in Pocket Gets a Face Thanks to FBI

Categories: Violent Crime

sauget_skeleton_rubles.jpg
Courtesy Sauget Police Department

A little over a year ago, a hunter stumbled across skeletal remains in a thicket near the American Bottoms wastewater treatment plant in southwest Sauget. Far away from any path that a normal pedestrian might wander down, in a densely wooded area, the hunter found a skull with a tiny hole in the back.

Sauget police searched the area and came up with a jawbone, about 40 other assorted bones and a pair of size 44-46 navy blue sweatpants. In the pocket, cops found five coins: Russian rubles, cumulatively worth about $3.66.

The man's identity remains a mystery. Yesterday, however, the victim got a face thanks to some help from the FBI.

See also: Teen Shot in Head in Downtown Drive-By After Hotel Party

Detective John "Vito" Parisi says a team dressed in hazmat suits returned to scene this fall to gather more remains (the suits were needed due to the fact that the area is so close to the industrial plant). But he's learned precious little about the victim other than the fact that he's a white male with a sizeable waist. Parisi hypothesized early on that the hole in the back of the skull came from a bullet. Because of the coins, he contacted experts on the Russian mafia to see if they could connect them to any known gang practices (Parisi says they said it was possible, but not certain).

Now, months after the Sauget police sent the remains to the University of North Texas Center for Human Investigation, they know a tiny bit more.

The man was between the ages of 30 and 50 years old, he stood in the five-foot-six to six-foot-one range. And his face -- based on the bone structure -- likely looked a bit like the image above, molded out of clay by scientists at the FBI.

The only other finding the 3-D imaging provided actually deepens the mystery and surprised Parisi.

"That wasn't a bullet hole. We don't know what it was," he tells Daily RFT.

Although he says the rest of the bones do not show obvious signs of injury or trauma, he still hasn't ruled out foul play. The area where the body was discovered is just too remote and the coins in the pocket are plain bizarre.

He's encouraging anyone with information to contact him at 618-337-5267.

E-mail the author at Jessica.Lussenhop@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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