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Headless body found in Alabama a quarter of a century ago identified as California man; sheriff says there are "persons of interest "

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A headless body found in the woods in Alabama more than a quarter century ago was finally identified on Wednesday as a 20-year-old California resident, officials said. Investigators with the Marshall County Sheriff's Office and the State Bureau of Investigation announced in a post on Facebook that the body is that of Jefferey Douglas Kimzy, of Santa Barbara, California.

Kimzy's decomposing body was found in the woods along Little Cotaco Creek in the town of Union Grove on April 15, 1997. His head, hands and feet had been removed, so it was hard to give an accurate age or description, investigators said.

Chief Investigator Keith Wilson said the head and hands were cut off with "some type of saw," while the feet were gnawed off by animals, CBS affiliate WHNT reported. The heart and spleen had reportedly been removed with surgical-type skill.

"Someone went to great lengths to hide the identity of our victim and the cause of his death," Wilson said.

Investigators said that the victim was dressed in a Faded Glory short-sleeve shirt and Levi Strauss 501 jeans, WHNT reported. Some air fresheners were also found near the body.  

Press Release May 24, 2023 On April 15, 1997, a body was located in a wooded area along Little Cotaco Creek just off...

Posted by Marshall County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, May 24, 2023

An autopsy found the manner of death was a homicide and that the removal of the body parts was done intentionally to make identification impossible, the sheriff's office said.

Eventually the case went cold. In 2019, samples were sent to Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company that used a process known as DNA phenotyping, which uses a subject's DNA to predict what they may have looked like. The company released a composite image of the victim in 2021, and investigators hoped the sketch would be able to generate new leads, which it did.

Sheriff Phil Sims thanked all the investigators who have been involved in the case.

"I know they would like to see this case solved, but having a positive identification will help us get closer to solving this case," Sims said. "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."

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