LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The now-beachfront area on Lake Mead where a barrel with a body in it was discovered this weekend was a half-mile out to shore when police suspect the murder victim was dumped decades ago.
Boaters discovered the body in the first barrel around 3 p.m. Sunday. The 8 News Now I-Team first reported the discovery Sunday afternoon and new details about the discovery Monday.
The person, believed to be a man, is suspected to have been murdered in the late-1970s or 1980s, investigators said.
“The victim’s clothes and shoes were sold at Kmart in the mid-to-late 1970s,” Metro police homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said Tuesday.
The lake experienced record-high levels around that time.
While at the lake Monday, the I-Team noticed a second barrel several hundred feet away from the site of the first — also onshore. Police confirmed Tuesday the barrel was empty.
Police believe the barrel was fully intact when it was dropped into the lake.
The area where the barrel was discovered is near the Hemenway Harbor boat ramp. Crews have had to extend the ramp a half-mile over the past decades to get it closer to the water.
Satellite images reveal the shoreline was about a half-mile west in the 1970s and 1980s compared to 2022.
In the 1970s and 1980s, what is now a beach would have been several dozen feet underwater. The area is directly in front of what would have been a half-mile from the boat ramp.
As the I-Team’s George Knapp has reported, Lake Mead and its surrounding washes were popular dumping grounds for criminals.
“I would say there is a very good chance as the water level drops that we are going to find additional human remains,” Spencer said.
Lake Mead hit record highs in the early-1980s. The lake dropped below 1,056 feet in elevation last Tuesday, less than a week after hitting 1,057 feet the week before. Lake levels are expressed in altitude, not depth. At its highest levels, the lake is near 1,225 feet.