LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Since May 2022, four sets of human remains have been located at Lake Mead. Here is what we know about those instances:
May 1, 2022
On May 1, 2022, boaters at Lake Mead discovered the first set of human remains. The body was concealed in a barrel near Hemenway Harbor. County officials said the man died from a gunshot wound, with the manner of his death being homicide. Those remains are still unidentified.
“The victim’s clothes and shoes were sold at Kmart in the mid-to-late 1970s,” Lt. Ray Spencer with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said at the time.
May 7, 2022
Six days later, another set of human remains was found, this time in the Callville Bay area of Lake Mead. The discovery was made by two paddleboarders who said they noticed what appeared to be a rock at first glance. However, upon further inspection, they realized they had discovered human remains.
On August 24, those remains were identified as Thomas Erndt, who was from Las Vegas. Erndt was 42 years old at his death on Aug. 2, 2002, when he and his two children, along with two adults, went swimming in the lake. Erndt’s sister said they all jumped in the water, but her brother never surfaced.
July 25, 2022
A report of remains found at Lake Mead was confirmed to be human by officials in July, the third in three months. Viewer Jesus Catalan caught the discovery on camera.
Similar reports came to light on August 6 and August 16 as more partial remains were discovered at the lake.
It was later determined that these discoveries were from the same individual. On April 26, 2023 that person was identified by officials as Claude Russell Pensinger of Las Vegas. Pensinger was 52 years old at the time of his disappearance on July 14, 1998. The cause of Pensinger’s death has not yet been determined.
October 17, 2022
On Oct. 17, a diver discovered a human bone in the area of Callville Bay at Lake Mead, according to Clark County officials. A day later divers found more “human skeletal remains.”
On March 28, County officials identified those skeletal remains as Donald Smith, of North Las Vegas, who drowned there nearly 49 years before.