26 years after a badly mutilated body was dumped in Marshall County, the victim has been identified.
It was a long, winding road to get to this point. The victim died by homicide and finally identifying him at least gives investigators a long-awaited starting point to work the case and possibly identify the killer.
Sheriff Phil Sims issued this statement:
On April 15, 1997, a body was located in a wooded area along Little Cotaco Creek just off of Eagle Rock Road in Union Grove. The body was identified as that of a white male; however, due to the removal of the head, hands, and feet, it was impossible to give an accurate age or description. There was also some other mutilation of the body, which appeared to be consistent with a forensic countermeasure. The autopsy results found that the manner of death was a homicide, and that the removal of the body parts was done intentionally; most likely to make identification impossible.
Investigators from the Marshall County Sheriff's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation worked tirelessly to identify the individual and followed up on numerous leads; but were still unsuccessful in making a positive identification. The case was entered into the FBI's VICAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program); however, there were no credible leads generated there either. Throughout the years leads stopped coming in, and eventually the case went cold.
After 26 years, the deceased individual has now been identified as Jefferey Douglas Kimzy, 20, of Santa Barbara, California.
Improvements in DNA testing and genealogical research led to the identification. In November of 2019; Sheriff Sims and then Chief Investigator Keith Wilson made contact with Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA Technology company.
Using a technology called DNA Phenotyping, Parabon could give us some possible physical characteristics for what our subject may have looked like.
The DNA testing began in 2019, with the first genealogical brief produced in late 2020.
In May of 2021 - almost two years exactly prior to this week's announcement - Sheriff Sims and now-retired Chief Investigator Keith Wilson released a composite image of the victim to the media in hopes of generating some new leads. A few leads were received; however, none of those led to any useful data regarding the victim. It is worth noting that that the image Parabon produced turned out to be remarkably similar to how the victim looked once he was identified.
In August of last year, Parabon informed Chief Investigator Willie Orr that they were still actively working the class and thought they were near to making a "a close familial match."
In August 29, 2022, Parabon's chief genetic genealogist tol the sheriff's office that Marshall County's unidentified remains were a close familial match to a man who lived in Santa Barbara, California. She was able to provide investigators with a name for a known close relative who lived in Madison, Tennessee.
That set off more testing, eventually leading to the identification of the remains as those of Jeffrey Kimzy. The work included DNA testing of Jeffrey's parents, who are still alive.
"Investigators have worked diligently to piece together Mr. Kimzey's life, and have developed some useful leads," Sheriff Sims said. "It is still unknown exactly how he came to be deceased in a shallow creek in western Marshall County; however, investigators are still actively working this investigation.
"I know they would like to see this case solved, but having a positive identification will help us get closer to solving this case. I want to thank all the Investigators, the people at Parabon who worked tirelessly on this case, Alabama Department of Forensic Science, Marshall County Coroner's Office, Marshall County District Attorney's Office and everyone involved."
Sims said only half of the investigation is done and it's not over.
"Today, we want to announce we do have persons of interest involved in this case and are actively pursuing those leads. Also, we will be working with Parabon on DNA that we have recently become aware related to items found at the scene."
If anyone has any information on this case from that time period, they are being asked to call the Marshall County Sheriff's Office at (256) 582-2034.
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