2001 drowning victim finally identified

Human remains that were discovered partially submerged in Lake Havasu in 2001 near Havasu Springs Resort have been positively identified as Steven Everett Wilson of Memphis, Tennessee.

On April 18th, 2001, La Paz County Sheriff’s Office personnel along with Buckskin Fire Department personnel responded to an area known as “Bird Island”, which is located north-east of Havasu Springs Resort near Parker, regarding a deceased person found floating in the lake. Upon arrival of emergency personnel, a fully-clothed white adult male was found face down and partially submerged near the shoreline.

The remains were recovered from Lake Havasu and transported to the Pima County Forensic Science Center in Tucson, AZ for an autopsy.

Results of the autopsy suggested that the probable cause of death was drowning.

During the autopsy, fingerprint impressions were taken from the victim, however most of the prints were degraded due to decomposition and their exposure to water for an extended period of time. Also during the examination, a tattoo of the name ”Kathy” was located on the victim’s left forearm.

The fingerprints were submitted to the Arizona Department of Public Safety Crime Lab, Latent Prints Section, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. All had negative results.

After multiple attempts were made to identify this individual, the case went cold.

Then, in April 2011, the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by Dr. Bruce Anderson of the Pima County Forensic Science Center who stated that he had been contacted by family members of Mr. Wilson. The family told Dr. Anderson that “Steven” had been missing for an extended period of time and that, through the “Namus” internet database, they identified a potential match to their missing family member.

Dr. Anderson contacted Investigator Larry Kubacki of the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office and the two of them developed, independently, additional information that led to the positive identification of Steven Wilson. Mr. Wilson was 39 years old at the time of his death.

The La Paz County Sheriff’s Office Investigative Unit would like to thank the Pima County Forensic Science Center, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Western Regional Crime Laboratory, Latent Prints Section, the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation and the “Namus” Internet Database for their expertise and assistance in the identification process.

They also issued thanks to the family of Steven E. Wilson, who assisted investigators by relating additional information and providing additional evidence that made this identification possible.

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