Meridian Star

April 6, 2014

New pic: possible face of man shot in 1978-82

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com
Associated Press

PASCAGOULA —

PASCAGOULA, Miss. (AP) — Pascagoula police hope a forensic artist's work will help identify a young man whose body was dumped from a highway bridge more than 30 years ago. He could have been killed any time from late 1979 to early 1982.

Fifty-three of his bones were found Dec. 8, 1982, in the Dog River, with brown pants and a Hawaiian-print shirt. Detectives believe his body had been dumped from the nearby Interstate 10 bridge.

Detective Darren Versiga learned while reopening another cold case that this man's bones were being stored in Oklahoma, where the autopsy was done in 1982.

Versiga sent the remains for DNA tests and reconstruction. No match turned up for the DNA, he told WLOX-TV (http://bit.ly/1im1oEj).

But he received a picture last week from a volunteer group of 23 forensic artists coordinated by Todd Matthews of UNT Health Sciences Center in Fort Worth, Texas, and called Project EDAN, for "Everybody Deserves a Name."

The possible face for Pascagoula's unknown man was created by Catyana Falsetti of Gainesville, Fla.

"It looks like a real photo," Versiga said.

Falsetti said she reconstructs about 20 faces a year under paying contracts and donates another 10 to 12 each year.

"I have always been an artist and wanted to use my skills to help society," she wrote in an email to The Associated Press.

Investigators think the man was black, between 18 and 22 years old, about 5-feet-6 and 120 pounds. He had a strong overbite and "would have had a scar on the left side of forehead," according to a report at http://identifyus.org.

His bones were found under eastbound I-10 by divers who began searching after a young girl's body was found floating by the westbound span. The bodies were about 60 yards apart.

"The black male was found thrown off the bridge, it seemed like," Versiga said. He said the autopsy confirmed that he had been shot. "We don't know if he is from the area or was driven here and thrown off the bridge," Versiga said.

Anyone who thinks he or she recognizes the man is asked to call Pascagoula police at 228-762-2211.

"Hopefully we will bring closure to a family somewhere," Versiga said.