Last Updated: 2:31 p.m.
A team of forensic anthropologists has issued a computer-generated “facial approximation” portrait of the person whose remains were discovered by a construction crew at the Toscana subdivision off Old Kings Road in mid-July.
The image did not match up with any known missing persons in Flagler County, and it is still not clear when the man is believed to have died. But the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is hoping that the two portraits, one with facial hair and one without, may help generate leads and tips as the portraits propagate in Flagler and beyond.
Facial-recognition technology, which has advanced rapidly in the last few years, may also play a role in the determination.
“We’re using different investigative methods to try to determine who it is based on that facial recognition,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Obviously, facial recognition is one of them, but the ME and anthropologists are still working to extract DNA.” That will then be put through the FBI’s database. The DNA analysis has not been completed. Though the period when the person died has not been established, “we are sure probably 99 percent that it is not historical find,” Staly said, meaning that it is not an archeological discovery, but the discovery of a more relatively contemporary death. Staly gave the same percentage certainty to the determination that the death occurred where the remains were found.
The portraits are the culmination of work by the Florida Institute for Forensic Anthropology & Applied Science, which specializes in resolving “violent crimes through technical assistance in anthropology, scientific research, education, and forensic art.”
Investigators, the Sheriff’s Office said in a release issued this morning, have not ruled out foul play or determined the cause of death or exactly when he died. Asked during an interview whether the remains showed any indications of trauma, the sheriff said: “We’re not releasing any information that would be investigative information. So at this time, we’re still investigating it as if it was foul play. until we determined that it was not. We do that, with all our cases, unintended deaths.”
The portraits are based on skeletal remains. Some 90 percent of the person’s skeleton was recovered and rebuilt, including the majority of the skull, which enabled the approximation of his appearance.
The remains have been tied to a man who was either Black or of mixed race, and who was between 35 and 50 years old, according to the Sheriff’s Office. No other physical indicators have been determined at this point in the investigation. Both images show the man without hair. It’s not clear if forensic investigators were able to determine whether the man had hair or not at the time he died. (Dr. Erin Kimmerle, who was at the Toscana site and whose team conducted the research at the University of South Florida, could not be reached before this article initially published.)
“We knew that it was going to take some time to identify this man,” Sheriff Rick Staly said. “We are now one step closer with a lot of work still to be done. These kinds of cases take time to solve, especially considering how the remains were found. Our Cold Case detectives and Dr. Kimmerle’s team have done terrific work getting us to this point. We’re hoping someone recognizes these images as someone they may know.”
FCSO’s Cold Case Unit and the Medical Examiner’s Office continue to pursue other leads in this case, including DNA testing. Once a DNA profile has been developed, it will be compared to DNA profiles in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) database, where it will be compared to other DNA profiles on file in the hopes of determining the man’s identity.
“It’s a step in the right direction. We’ve got a long ways to go yet,” the sheriff said.
Anyone with information on the possible identification of this man is urged to contact the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office at 386-313-4911 or Crime Stoppers at 888-277-TIPS (8477). Emails can also be submitted to [email protected].