Doe Network finds identities for unidentified bodies

Local law enforcement works with group to ID victims

April 7, 2008
The Pantagraph
By Greg Cima

Local law enforcement works with group to ID victims

BLOOMINGTON — Illinois State Police sent a sketch of the unidentified man to hundreds of police agencies, the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis and area media outlets.

Police also sent the composite image to a group of private citizens dedicated to identifying the unnamed dead.

Illinois State Police spokesman Brian Ley said his agency gave information to the Doe Network when the man‘s body was found Jan. 25 in Marshall, a town east of Charleston near the Indiana border. Though the volunteer network didn’t provide the clues that solved that case, the case shows that law enforcement is embracing the volunteers’ help.

“We are always receptive to any agency that can assist in an investigation,” Ley said.

The Doe Network is made of volunteers nationwide and in Australia and Europe, and its members search public records and databases in hopes of finding out who are the John and Jane Does who show up in morgues.

Coroners in McLean and surrounding counties have not worked with Doe’s members, and most said they do not have any cases involving unidentified bodies. But Tazewell County Coroner Dennis Conover said he is familiar with the Doe Network and its members do good work.

“I know they’re a good organization and they’ve done some good work in the past,” Conover said. “But we don’t allow such things as identified bodies in Tazewell County.”

Ford County Coroner Doug Wallace said one body dumped in his county in the early 1980s remains unidentified. But he said there were no unsolved cases during his tenure and he has not dealt with the Doe Network.

In the Clark County case, family members of Leon Remigio-Becerril, 26, of Indianapolis, called police Feb. 28 and said the man depicted in news media may be their missing brother, police said. He was positively identified through fingerprints the next day.

Ley said use of the Doe Network and the Unidentified Decedent Reporting System, a national group of coroners and medical examiners, have become added tools for police in identifying bodies. But he had not so far heard of any cases solved by the group in Illinois.