Alabama Investigators Identify Headless Body Found 26 Years Ago

Investigators in Marshall County, Alabama, in the northwest corner of the state announced this week that DNA had helped identify a body found alongside a creek in the county in 1997.

The homicide victim has been identified as Jefferey Douglas Kimzey of Santa Barbara, California, who was 20 at the time of his death.

The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office also said they have identified “persons of interest in this case and are actively pursuing those leads. They are also working with DNA company Parabon NanoLabs to develop DNA profiles “related to items found at the scene.”

Kimzey’s body was found on April 15, 1997, without its head, hands, or feet. An autopsy determined that the removal of body parts “was done intentionally; most likely to make identification impossible.” Additionally, the sheriff’s office said, there was some other mutilation of the body.

Lead investigator Keith Wilson said that Kimzey’s head and hands were severed with “some type of saw,” while animals gnawed off his feet, according to the Gadsden Times. Additionally, Wilson said, his heart and spleen were removed with surgical skill. There was evidence he had been redressed.

Investigators said that Kimzey wasn’t killed by the creek, but his body was moved there after decomposition had already begun. It was found by a 17-year-old hunting for a fishing spot.

Investigators struggled to make an identification, and the case eventually went cold. In 2019, however, investigators contacted Parabon, which came up with some physical characteristics of the victim through DNA phenotyping. That gave investigators a rough idea of what the victim might have looked like. Genealogical DNA eventually gave them a name.

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[Featured image: Jefferey Douglas Kimzey’s 1995 high school yearbook photo and Parabon’s composite profile/Marshall County Sheriff’s Office]