CHARLOTTE COUNTY, FL – The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) Cold Case Unit today released details on two cold cases which detectives are seeking new leads for. One involves unidentified remains found in 2002 from Zemel Road in Punta Gorda, and the other remains found on Acline Road and Tamiami Trail also in Punta Gorda in 1980.
2002 Unidentified Remains from Zemel Road
On January 6, 2002 decomposed remains were located in the bushes on the side of Zemel Road in Charlotte County. Two individuals driving on Zemel Road coming from a local shooting range saw an animal run across the road and stopped to try and locate and identify the type of animal. That is when they noticed bones and contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office who responded to the area and began the investigation.
A human skull and other bones were recovered from the scene and submitted to the Medical Examiner’s Office who determined that the death was a homicide.
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On July 29, 2019, Heather Walsh-Haney, a Forensic Anthropologist at Florida Gulf Coast University issued a report, requested by the CCSO Cold Case team, which indicated the victim was a male, 5’3″ – 5’7″, 30-59 years of age, and the ancestry could be African/Black but European or White and Latin American/Hispanic could not be ruled out. The estimated time of death could be several weeks to several months.
In 2021, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Imaging team, at the request of the CCSO Cold Case team, was requested to prepare an image of how the victim may have looked before he was killed. Forensic Imaging Specialist Autumn Krick generated an artist rendition which is attached. Included with the artist rendition of the victim is a photograph of a Bulova watch with a clear stone at the 12:00 o’clock position that was found on the arm of the remains when located in 2002.
Throughout the years since this individual was located, no information has been received to identify him. There have been reports that this person was involved in an altercation with an individual or individuals from the local area who beat him to death, dumped his body, took bloody clothes and a weapon, and buried them in a field near Grapefruit Lane in Punta Gorda.
The CCSO Cold Case team would like to talk to anyone who may have information regarding the identification of this homicide victim or any additional information about who may have killed him.
1980 Unidentified Remains from Acline Road and Tamiami Trail
On February 12, 1980, skeletal remains were located in the bushes adjacent to the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad tracks near Acline Road and US 41 (Tamiami Trail) by a bulldozer operator who was clearing trees along the railroad tracks. When the operator noticed the bones, he contacted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office who responded to the scene and began the investigation. While most of the bones were found on the ground, some bones were unearthed during the forensic recovery sifting process. Also located during the sifting process were two costume jewelry rings, one size 6 ½ silver spoon ring and one size 9 gold ring with a topaz stone.
On October 11, 2011, the CCSO Cold Case team requested Heather Walsh-Haney, a Forensic Anthropologist at Florida Gulf Coast University, to do an analysis of the skull. She subsequently issued a report which indicated the victim was a female, between 18-35 years of age and the ancestry could be African/Black or Latin/Hispanic. The report indicates the time of death could be anywhere from several months to several years prior to the discovery. The analysis of the remains determined fractures to the skull however, it could not be determined if they occurred before or after death. Her height was estimated to be 5’7″ – 5’8″ when the remains were recovered.
In 2021, the CCSO Cold Case team requested the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Imaging team to prepare an image of how the victim may have looked prior to her death. Forensic Imaging Specialist Autumn Krick generated an artist rendition which is attached. Included with the artist rendition of the victim are photographs of the two rings that were located with the remains.
Throughout the years since this individual was located, no information has been received to identify her and the CCSO Cold Case team would like to talk to anyone who may have any information regarding the identification of this individual or what may have happened to her.