Fifth body found in Lake Mead: Bones recovered from the SWIMMING AREA

Fifth set of human remains is found in ‘mob-hit dumping ground’ Lake Mead in Las Vegas: Skeleton is recovered from SWIMMING AREA as drought-battered reservoir continues to reveal dark side

  • Human remains were reported near Swim Beach in Lake Mead on Monday evening, the National Park Service announced – the fifth such find since May
  • On August 6 the fourth set was unearthed in Swim Beach, and the third set, also at Swim Beach, was discovered on July 26
  • Coroners are currently investigating whether the third and fourth sets could have come from the same person
  • It is not yet known whether the fifth set could also be partial remains of the same person
  • The first set was discovered on May 1 – a man in a barrel, believed to have been murdered in the 1970s or 80s with a gunshot wound to the head
  • The second set was found near Callville Bay, and a man believes that could be his father, who drowned in the lake in 1958 

A fifth set of human remains has been found in Nevada’s rapidly-reducing Lake Mead, with water levels at historic lows. 

National Park Service rangers were informed of the find at the Swim Beach area at 8pm on Monday, the NPS said. 

‘Park rangers have set a perimeter to recover the remains with the support from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department’s dive team,’ they said in a statement. 

‘The Clark County Medical Examiner has also been contacted.’

The previous two sets of remains have also been found at Swim Beach. 

Last week the coroner said those two sets of remains could be from the same person.

It is not yet known if this fifth set is also the same person as the third and fourth, and Fox News showed divers on the scene. 

Divers are seen on Tuesday searching the Swim Beach area, where the fifth set of remains was discovered

Officials are seen combing the area for the human remains on Tuesday

Divers were accompanied by police and representatives of the coroner’s office

The waters of Lake Mead are currently receding at a rate of 12 inches a month

The bones and other fragments began emerging in May – first with a male body in a barrel. The person had been shot in the head, and a homicide investigation has been opened. It is believed the man was killed in the 1970s or 80s.

On May 7, a person believed to be aged between 23 and 38 was found at Callville Bay, and DNA samples were taken.

A man living in Spain, Todd Kolod, has said he is increasingly confident that set of remains is his father Daniel, who was killed in a speedboat accident on the lake in 1958, aged 22, and whose body was never recovered.

A third set of remains was found on July 26, at Swim Beach, and on August 6 a fourth set was unearthed at the same location.

‘At this time, the investigation into these remains includes working to determine whether the two sets of remains are from the same person or not,’ the coroner’s office said in a statement on August 10. 

The fourth set of remains (pictured) was discovered on August 6 at Swim Beach in Lake Mead. On August 10, the coroner said it could be the same person as was discovered on July 25

This is the third set of human remains to have been discovered at Lake Mead, on July 26. No further details about the remains – including the gender of the person, and how long they were in the lake – have been disclosed. Coroners believe this could be the same person as the remains discovered on August 6

People are pictured at Swim Beach in Lake Mead on August 7 – the day after the fourth set was found. The coroner is investigating whether the August 6 remains belong to a person found on July 25

Two girls are seen at Lake Mead’s Swim Beach on August 7

Swim Beach is pictured on August 7, with water levels at an 80-year low

Christopher Orozco told Fox 4 that he and his family were visiting the lake to go for a swim, when they found the bones sticking out of the sand under shallow water.

He said he took photos and videos of the bones before reporting them to the National Park Service.

‘We went in the water, one of my daughters said she saw something in the water she thought it was a bone,’ said Orozco.

‘I said okay let me go see. As I got closer I picked it up I noticed it was a bone like this big.’ 

The National Park Service confirmed that Orozco was the first person to report the August 6 discovery. 

According to NASA, water levels in Lake Mead are their lowest level since 1937. As of July 18, 2022, the lake was filled to 27 percent capacity

The identification of all the remains could take months, if not years. 

Some of those who perished in the lake may be untraceable, as DNA sampling is a relatively new invention. 

Police in Las Vegas are trawling their records of unsolved missing person cases, and have taken DNA from several families to see if answers can be found.

Kolod, who is eager to learn whether the second set is indeed his father, said at the weekend that he is yet to be asked for DNA, although he is keen to assist. 

The set included bones with missing teeth that appeared to align with a partial denture Daniel had in his mouth.

‘With each clue, I always expect in my mind that it’s going to put us farther away from our goal, but consistently each clue is putting us closer, and this is like a bullseye,’ he told 8 News Now.

Kolod had hoped to identify his father by his teeth.

Daniel was in a car crash a few years before he drowned and lost his front teeth, so wore dentures.

Todd Kolod, pictured here with his father Daniel, was born in 1956, two years before his father died in Callville Bay

Todd Kolod thinks the second body may be that of his father Daniel Kolod, who fell from a speedboat that flipped when it struck by a wake during a fishing trip with a friend 64 years ago

A second body (pictured) was discovered in drought-hit Lake Mead reservoir a week after corpse was found in barrel exposed by lowest water levels

Teeth from a second body were discovered in drought-hit Lake Mead were discovered just a week after another body turned up in the reservoir 

Journalists from 8 News Now took photos of the remains to Dr Deborah Staten, owner and dentist at Desert Hills Dental, who is certified in helping identify remains from dental records. 

She said it is clear the skeleton is missing its front teeth, but she believes the person was missing other teeth before their death, suspecting some were recently removed.

Dental records have likely been destroyed in the intervening 60 years.

Kolod said he is keen to give a DNA sample as quickly as possible, to solve the mystery, but was frustrated at how long it was taking.

‘The pace of being contacted about a DNA sample – I’m starting to lose hope a little bit,’ he said. 

‘Maybe this new finding lights something up.’ 

Around 300 people have drowned in Lake Mead since the 1930s but that does not include those whose bodies were never recovered, including Daniel Kolod. 

Human remains, as well as sunken boats, including a World War II landing craft, and other items have been discovered at lake over the summer as the water level declines.

The first body was discovered in a barrel (pictured). The coroner said her office was continuing work to identify the man whose body was found May 1 in a rusted barrel in the Hemenway Harbor area

Little information has been made public about the discoveries. Investigators are scouring missing persons reports in an attempt to identify the corpses

Officials from Clark County are shown creating a perimeter around where the latest gruesome discovery was made at Lake Mead

Intake towers stand exposed in Lake Mead as water continues to dry up in the lake on the Arizona side of the Hoover Dam

https://youtube.com/watch?v=H8sfsX-I5Mw%3Frel%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26hl%3Den-US

According to NASA, water levels in Lake Mead are their lowest level since 1937

Lake Mead’s water level is at the lowest it has been in over 85 years

A formerly sunken boat sits on cracked earth hundreds of feet from the shoreline of Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on May 10, 2022

The Lake, including a marina in Boulder City, Nevada (pictured) is shrinking as water retreats

The discoveries have prompted speculation about long-unsolved missing person and murder cases dating back decades – to organized crime and the early days of Las Vegas, which is just a 30-minute drive from the lake.

The drop in the lake level comes while a vast majority of peer-reviewed science says the world is warming, mainly because of rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. 

Scientists say the U.S. West, including the Colorado River basin, has become warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

About 40 million people rely on the Colorado River as their water supply, with Lake Mead and Lake Powell serving as the area’s primary reservoirs. 

According to NASA, water levels in Lake Mead are their lowest level since 1937. As of July 18, 2022, the lake was filled to 27 percent capacity. 

In June, Ann Willis of the Center for Watershed Science told the Washington Post: ‘In the last 1,200 years, we haven’t seen a period as dry as right now. 

‘We’re really hitting new lows in terms of how extreme the conditions are.’ 

Lake Mead once sat 1,200 feet above sea level. 

But after more than two decades of drought, it was at only 1,040 feet above sea level in July – its lowest level since filling in the 1930s.

It is currently falling about 12 inches every week.

Is this the watery grave of Mob victims? Lake Mead near Las Vegas has retreated due to drought, exposing decades of hidden secrets including several bodies believed to be Mafia hits… and officials expect ‘a lot more’ will be revealed

The first body was discovered in May. The skeletal remains of a man were found crammed inside a rusting metal barrel on Lake Mead’s muddy shore. Police said he had been shot in the head, Mob-style, sometime in the 1970s or 1980s.

Since then, the corpses have kept coming out of America’s biggest reservoir, which is giving up its decades-old secrets.

Recently, a new set of human remains proved the fourth such find.

The waters of the 112-mile-long lake on the Nevada-Arizona border are retreating in the wake of a drought, exacerbated by heavy water use by surrounding states.

Treasure hunters have flocked to the area, drawn by reports of what may be revealed: including several ghost towns, an ancient Native American ‘lost city’, a crashed World War II B-29 Superfortress bomber and the buried loot of a notorious gangster.

The lake is notable for being just 20 miles from Las Vegas at its nearest point. So perhaps unsurprisingly, while other drying reservoirs in America’s parched Southwest have revealed wonders such as a fossilised mastodon skull and ancient Native American dwellings, the one closest to Sin City is throwing up more gruesome surprises.

The waters of Lake Mead, on the Nevada-Arizona border, are retreating in the wake of a drought. In May the skeletal remains of a man were found crammed inside a rusting metal barrel on the shore

In its early years, the casino town was so tightly controlled by the Chicago Mafia — the so-called Outfit — and other clans in the Midwest that it was said every other person there claimed to be connected to the Mob. And with so much money to be made by the unscrupulous — not to mention so much potential for them to rip each other off — there were inevitably a lot of casualties.

Although Lake Mead had obvious attractions as a place to dispose of those fatalities, local Mafia experts have long argued that mobsters preferred to bury bodies in the Nevada desert, as they feared that floating corpses in the reservoir would alarm tourists and discourage them from visiting Vegas.

The latest discoveries, particularly the unfortunate man in the barrel, suggest that assessment may have been wide of the mark.

‘This is just the tip of the iceberg,’ said Travis Heggie, a former National Park Service official who has studied deaths at Lake Mead Recreation Area. ‘I’m expecting all sorts of criminal things to show up — and I mean a lot.’

Even if it isn’t more bodies in barrels, he expects they will find an arsenal of guns and knives — and whatever else the mobsters used to kill each other and needed to dump afterwards.

The 86-year-old reservoir is formed by the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and provides drinking water to California, Arizona, Nevada and parts of Mexico. It is currently filled to less than 30 per cent of its capacity.

Although Lake Mead had obvious attractions as a place to dispose of those fatalities, local Mafia experts have long argued that mobsters preferred to bury bodies in the Nevada desert (pictured: another body found at Lake Mead)

Although the lake occupies a U.S. national park (so everything found there technically belongs to the federal government), two former police officers have offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who discovers more sunken barrels.

Some of them, it is believed, may contain the missing loot of Bugsy Siegel, who made a fortune as one of Sin City’s early criminal overlords. It’s rumoured he hid his takings in several barrels that were sent to the bottom of Lake Mead shortly before he was murdered in 1947.

But given that stashing victims in barrels has been a popular technique among criminals since the mid-19th century, they may find a few more skeletons before they find Bugsy’s treasure.

After the body in the barrel was found near an area known as Swim Beach on May 1, the shoes of the victim allowed authorities to approximately date the death. A week later, two sisters out paddleboarding found the half-buried remains of someone aged between 23 and 37.

They initially thought it was sheep bones. ‘It wasn’t until I saw the jawbone with a silver filling that I was like, ‘Whoa, this is human!’ and started to freak out,’ said one of the girls.

The local coroner said these second remains were more skeletal than the first, which still bore organ tissue. The cause of death remains unknown.

On July 25, back at Swim Beach, a third set of remains were discovered, encased in mud at the waterline. A fourth set were found on Swim Beach two weeks ago.

Experts say it is too early to work out an identity and cause of death of the latter finds, but staff at Las Vegas’s ‘Mob Museum’ have a shrewd idea who ended up in the barrel. They believe he is Johnny Pappas, who worked in the casino industry but had ‘connections’ to the Mafia. He worked for the Argent Corporation, a front company for mobsters who owned four big Las Vegas casinos from which they ‘skimmed’ the profits (under-reporting takings to the government and pocketing the remainder).

Pappas, a Greek-American, kept a boat on Lake Mead and disappeared one night in 1976, after telling his wife he was going to a restaurant to meet two men who were interested in buying the boat. Three days later, his car was discovered with the keys in the ignition in a casino car park.

The man suspected of killing him was Tony Spilotro, a Chicago ‘enforcer’ and Mafia captain in Las Vegas. The prolific hitman was considered a suspect in almost 20 mob-related murders and disappearances from 1975 to 1977.

A body found at Swim Beach is believed to have been put there by Tony Spilotro, who inspired the character of Mafia psychopath Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film Casino. Pesci is pictured above with Sharon Stone in a scene from the movie

Director Martin Scorsese based his lead character Nicky Santoro on Spilotro in his 1995 hit movie Casino. Spilotro seen in a 1974 mug shot (above)

According to the Mob Museum, his favourite execution method was a shot to the head from a .22 handgun fitted with a silencer.

Spilotro inspired the character of Mafia psychopath Nicky Santoro, played by Joe Pesci in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film Casino, Hollywood’s greatest depiction of Las Vegas’s Mafia past.

Given that Sin City in the 1970s has been described as ‘a bloodbath’ — it is calculated there were more gangland killings in Las Vegas between 1971 and 1974 than in the previous 25 years put together — there are plenty more possible candidates for the man in the barrel. One theory is that the killing was carried out by a motorcycle gang who were trying to muscle in on the Mob’s turf.

Another idea is that the victim could be George Vandermark, also a Mob casino manager, who disappeared after allegedly skimming as much as $15 million in coins from the lucrative slot machines at the Argent Corporation’s casinos.

Vandermark, who allegedly cheated not only the U.S. taxman but also his Mafia bosses, was last seen in an Arizona hotel in 1976. His son, who was reportedly in touch with him after he went missing, was found murdered the following year.

The authorities claimed Vandermark fled to Costa Rica, although a Mob informant insisted he had been shot dead and buried in the Arizona desert. His body has never been found.

Treasure hunters have flocked to Lake Mead (pictured), drawn by reports of what may be revealed: including several ghost towns, an ancient Native American ‘lost city’ and a crashed World War II B-29 Superfortress bomber

Another possibility is that the barrel victim is a cocaine trafficker named William Crespo, who ‘flipped’ and became a witness for the government, only to disappear in 1983 before he was due to testify against an Argent executive and six of his associates.

There are even candidates the Mob Museum has never heard of — such as a mobster named Bobbi Eugene Shaw, who went missing in 1977. His sister, Barbara Brock, said police had contacted her and her nephew in May about collecting family DNA samples to check for a match. ‘I know he is gone but a definite knowing would make me feel better,’ she said.

And although some might think burying a body in the endless wasteland around Las Vegas couldn’t be simpler, historians say mobsters sometimes preferred a barrel as a more dramatic gesture. In 1976, a Vegas mobster was found dead inside a floating barrel as far away as Biscayne Bay, in Florida.

Whoever the latest barrel occupant turns out to be, it almost certainly won’t be the last grisly revelation from Lake Mead.

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