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Authorities Identify Remains Found at Lake Mead

Detectives with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department have said that the victim in the barrel appeared to have died from a gunshot wound, most likely in the mid-1970s or early 1980s based on clothing and footwear. The investigation is continuing, a police spokesman said on Wednesday.

Water levels in Lake Mead have been on a 22-year downward trend, according to NASA, which has been tracking satellite imagery of the lake. As of this week, the lake, about 30 miles east of Las Vegas, was filled to just 28 percent of capacity. Lake Powell, a giant reservoir in Utah and Arizona, was filled to just 26 percent of capacity, its lowest point since 1967.

As water levels continued to fall, still more remains were found this month at Lake Mead.

On Aug. 6, visitors to the Boulder Beach area discovered partial skeletal remains near the shoreline, in the same area where partial remains were discovered on July 25, the Clark County Office of Communications and Strategy said. Investigators were seeking to determine whether the two sets of remains were from the same person, the office said.

On Aug. 16, partial skeletal remains were discovered in the Boulder Beach area by a visitor who was in the water, the office said, adding that no further information was available about those remains.

Identifying the remains involves determining the person’s gender and approximate age as well as the height and weight, the office said. Investigators also review the files of people who have been reported missing over the years, and they collect D.N.A. samples, although the quality of the samples can be greatly affected by time and environmental conditions.

The office said that Mr. Erndt’s remains, which were found on May 7 in the Callville Bay Area of the lake, had been identified by the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner through investigative information, D.N.A. analysis and reports from the original incident. The official cause and manner of Mr. Erndt’s death is “undetermined,” because of the “limited physical evidence available,” the office said.

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