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Chandler authorities seek help identifying body from 2002 cold case

(Chandler Police Department Sketch)

PHOENIX — Police in a Phoenix suburb are seeking help in identifying a body found near a residential development 16 years ago.

The severely decomposed body of a man was found July 22, 2002, in a desert area north of a subdivision being built near Queen Creek and McQueen roads in Chandler.

“There were no visible signs of trauma on the body, but unfortunately there was no identification either,” Detective Seth Tyler of the Chandler Police Department told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

Investigators believe the body was that of a Hispanic man who was between the ages of 30 and 45 when he died. A sketch was made based on his facial makeup.

The body was found clothed in light blue jeans, a patterned button-down shirt and boxer shorts.

He wasn’t wearing shoes and his socks were clean, leading investigators to determine that he didn’t die where he was found, but he was dumped there.

Fingerprints didn’t match any in the national database.

“Whoever this individual is did not have any contact with law enforcement in the United States,” Tyler said.

One notable find was a bullet lodged in the left shin, just below the knee.

“The bullet was actually still inside of his body,” Tyler said, “but it was completely ruled out as being a factor in his cause of death.”

Toxicology tests revealed traces of methamphetamine and alcohol in the man’s system, but Tyler said medical examiners were unable to determine the cause of death.

Tyler said they need to know the man’s identity before being able to investigate whether a crime was committed.

“We do not know if it was a murder or not, but to get to that point we need to ID the body and find out who this individual is and then we can go back and we can trace his whereabouts and try and find out where he was at the time of his death,” Tyler said.

Anybody with information about the man’s identity was asked to call the detective handling the case at 480-782-4445 or the Silent Witness line, 480-948-6377, to remain anonymous.

Just last week, Chandler authorities were able to identify the remains of Jamie Laiaddee after putting out a call for public help.

Laiaddee disappeared in 2010, and Rick Valentini, also known as Bryan Stewart, was convicted of second-degree murder for her death a year later despite the absence of a body.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this report.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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