ARIZONA NEWS

Police identify remains of man found dead in Arizona desert in 1980s

Oct 10, 2023, 12:06 PM

The remains of a man who was found dead in the Arizona desert more than 40 years ago have been iden...

The remains of a man who was found dead in the Arizona desert more than 40 years ago have been identified as Virgil R. Renner. (Facebook Photo/MCSO)

(Facebook Photo/MCSO)

PHOENIX — The remains of a man who was found dead in the Arizona desert more than 40 years ago have been identified.

The body of the man, Virgil R. Renner, was found near Kingman on Sept. 9, 1982, according to a press release from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies found several items with Renner, including remnants of clothing and other personal effects, but couldn’t identify him.

An autopsy determined the man was a white male at least 55 years old who was either 6-foot-1 or 6-foot-2. His cause of death was unknown but he died between 1979 and 1981, according to MCSO.

Renner’s body was housed at the Tucson Medical Examiner’s Office until 2020, when the remains were moved to the Mohave County Medical Examiner’s Office.

In February, investigators got a breakthrough after a DNA sample was sent to Othram Inc. genetic laboratory in Texas.

The remains were identified as Renner, who was believed to be born in 1910 and was from Humboldt County, California.

DNA identification was confirmed through distant relatives because of a lack of family history for Renner.

The man was never married or had children, and both of his siblings had died.

Investigators believed Renner left California in the 1970s in search of gold in Nevada but don’t know why he made his way to Arizona.

“The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Othram Inc. once again for their assistance in this investigation,” MCSO said in the release.

“If not for their help, Renner would have remained another John Doe found in the vast desert of Mohave County.”

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Police identify remains of man found dead in Arizona desert in 1980s