Per Charley Project Irregular Jennifer C., Raymond Lee Matlock, who disappeared during an elk hunting trip in Washington in November in 1998, was identified last December. His remains were actually found less than a month after he disappeared; it appears he drowned in the Bone River, which feeds into the Pacific, and his body drifted some 125 miles up the Washington coast to Vancouver Island.
Such a long journey is unusual for drifting bodies, and that’s a big part of the reason Matlock remained unidentified for 18 years. But I think this case is also a good example of why detailed clothing descriptions are important wherever possible. The body was found wearing a distinctive t-shirt with a drawing of a truck, surfboards and the words “Jimmy Z” — something the police at the time might help identify him, except that if anyone knew what Matlock was wearing when he disappeared, they never bothered to say.
The management of the Washington cemetery where he was buried combined forces with a local crematory to exhume his remains, cremate them and ship them to his mom in Texas at no cost to her. That was nice of them.
Fascinating that even though the remains were unidentified, the British Columbia authorities were able to work out that the man probably came from the Washington State side of the border, and were permitted to send them to Washington State for burial.
In the last decade, Vancouver Island and its surroundings on both sides of the border have become so notorious for discoveries of individual human feet on shorelines that there’s an entire Wikipedia article about it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salish_Sea_human_foot_discoveries).
A good example of why inter-agency cooperation, even across national boundaries, is important in solving crimes. You might recall how recently I blogged about a murder-without-a-body case where a woman’s body was presumably dumped in a river that flows between India and Pakistan, and how I mentioned that a lot of bodies thrown in that river are never identified because India and Pakistan hate each other.
Ah, yes – thanks for the reminder. Really interesting!