Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Addicted to Murder: The True Story of Daniel Conahan Jr.

Disturbing Discovery

Punta Gorda, Florida, is located approximately 100 miles south of Tampa on the Gulf Coast. Founded in 1887, Punta Gorda is the only city in Charlotte County with a population of 12,500 people. According to the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce website, the towns name is Spanish and translates to "fat point" so named because a broad part of the land in Punta Gorda juts into Charlotte Harbor. Money Magazine once described the historic town as the "second best area in the United States in which to live." Charlotte County's crime rate is 60 percent below the national average. Sadly, no one in northern Charlotte County was prepared for the wave of terror that was beginning to crest over the horizon.

On February 1, 1994, two hunters were searching for a secluded area to hunt hogs, a favorite pastime of local sportsmen. As they made their way down rural northern Charlotte County roads, they spotted buzzards circling an area near Biscayne Boulevard.

One of the men had never been hog hunting before and had no idea what they looked like. Hoping to find a dead hog where the buzzards circled, the men pulled over and walked into the wooded area. To their disbelief, what they found was not a decomposing hog. Lying on the ground in front of them was a mutilated male corpse. The two men immediately reported their find to the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

A medical examiner later determined that the corpse was a white male, with brown hair, between 25 and 35 years old, approximately 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing 150 to 160 pounds. According to several articles published by the Naples Daily News, the coroner surmised that the body had been there for approximately one month. There was no identification with the body and no distinguishing characteristics. The only clue to the victim's identity was a stainless steel pin, which was discovered in the victim's lower left leg. Apparently the victim had been injured at some point and an operation had been performed to repair his leg. It was also noted in the medical examiner's report that rope marks were discovered on the skin and mutilations were found in the neck and pelvic region. The genitals of the victim had been removed.

As investigators scoured the crime scene, they found rope marks on a nearby tree, but nothing else of evidentiary value. Unable to identify the victim, police requested a clay skull reconstruction. They were hoping someone would be able to help them identify John Doe.

As 1995 came to an end, investigators were still no closer to solving the John Doe homicide. The media published pictures of the facial reconstruction. Several leads followed, but none proved to be of any help. Investigators began requesting dental charts and fingerprints of all missing men, but they were still no closer to identifying the victim.

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