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Bone mystery solved by Pasco investigators

10:23 AM, Aug 26, 2011   |    comments
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Pasco investigators say bones found in the Hillsborough Reserve were that of Donald Wayne Cavendar, who disappeared 10 years earlier.

Pasco County, Florida -- A cold case mystery we first profiled last year has been solved by Pasco Sheriff's investigators. 

A hunter found a man's skull, hip bones and leg bones in the woods in Pasco County on January 23, 2010.

"Along the railroad tracks is kind of where we found him, in the Hillsborough forest," said Detective Jim Gariepy with Pasco County.

The Hillsborough Reserve off State Road 54 became a crime scene.  Little did investigators know, the mystery man had been in these woods for 10 years.

Pasco detectives knew it would be a difficult case to solve. There was no clothing, no debris, no signs of foul play.  Just remains.

That's when investigators went straight to USF's Anthropology Department to see Dr. Erin Kimmerlee.  Essentially, what she does is build a brand new face using bones and a computer.

"It's not an exact likeness, not like a photograph of the person, but a likeness that the main features are consistent enough that someone can recognize them," she explained.

In this case, thanks to countless hours from detectives, Dr. Kimmerle's work at USF and DNA samples from the family, the mystery has been solved.

The victim is 43-year-old Donald Wayne Cavendar. 

Family members say he was suffering from mental problems and most likely wandered off.  In fact, they say he often talked about trying to walk to his home state of West Virginia.

"We think that he was walking, no sign of foul play or anything. It's just the remains we recovered and identified," said Gariepy.

It turns out Donald's family members live in Brandon and they were notified.  They say even though they know this won't bring him back, it does brings them peace.  

As for detectives, they say anthropology experts at U.S.F. are crucial in cases like this and now they can close the file on this cold case.

Previous Story: Skull bones come to life!

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