Archaeological Mystery Scientific mystery

The Mystery of the Headless Body Found in a Cave in the Us

The mystery of the decapitated body found in a US cave took 40 years to solve.

In 2020, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada, USA, identified the remains found in Buffalo Cave, Idaho, between 1979 and 1991 as those of Joseph Henry Loveless, a prisoner who escaped more than 100 years ago.

Anthony Redgrave, a representative of the non-profit organization DNA Doe Project, said the efforts of 14 genealogy experts over 15 weeks led to the breakthrough.

Local officials said Joseph was born in 1870. In 1899, he married Harriett Jane “Hattie” Savage in Salt Lake City, Utah, and they divorced in 1904.

Reconstruction of the face of Joseph Henry Loveless.

In August 1905, Joseph arrived in Idaho and married Agnes Octavia Caldwell. The couple had four children between 1906 and 1913. In March and December 1914, Joseph was arrested for selling bootleg liquor. He escaped from custody multiple times.

In 1916, he was suspected of killing his wife with a hatchet, but he escaped from custody while awaiting trial. After escaping, Joseph lived under multiple aliases and cut off contact with his family and relatives.

The process of identifying the body of Joseph took 40 years. In August 1979, a headless corpse and some other missing body parts were found in a burlap sack in Buffalo Cave, Idaho. The body was wearing dark pants, a white shirt, and an oatmeal-colored sweater, and was buried shallowly, less than 50 cm deep.

Around 12 years later, additional body parts, including arms and legs, were found in the cave. Anthropology professors and university students worked with volunteers to reconstruct the identity of the deceased and sent it to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office in November 2019.

Mrs. Agnes Octavia Caldwell Loveless.

Authorities later contacted Joseph’s grandson, now an 87-year-old man living in California, who agreed to meet and participate in DNA testing. This allowed the police to confirm that the remains belonged to the escaped criminal from over 100 years ago.

The DNA Doe Project believes that Joseph died at the age of 46. He was murdered and his body was brought to the cave shortly after his escape in May 1916. His torso and limbs were found in 1979 and 1991, respectively.

The police believe that Joseph was killed, but the identity of his murderer remains unknown.

As no photographs of Joseph exist, experts reconstructed his facial features based on descriptions and images of his relatives.


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