Several soldiers noticed a skull and several bones after they got into a car accident. One of their military vehicles hydroplaned across several lanes of traffic, flipping over — spilling gallons of fuel.
"The driver and the other people in the caravan jumped out with shovels and started digging holes to catch the diesel fuel and one of them noticed what he believed to be a human skeleton," GBI agent Lee Weathersby said.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was immediately called in and one agent says to this day, they have no idea whose remains they found.
"We spent two days out there, painstakingly, mapping out where different parts of the skeleton were located," GBI agent Lee Weathersby said.
Agents say the man’s body could’ve been there for years, making it harder to figure out who he was.
"It could’ve been as simple as somebody walking and died of natural causes or he could have been killed and dumped here," Weathersby said.
Little clues left agents with no leads or an idea as to whose remains they found.
Forensic teams determined the man was either in his mid-twenties to early thirties.
Weathersby was part of the initial investigation.
"We’ve put out feelers to other states and we’ve run hundreds of possible leads down as to who it will be and we’ve not been able to ID him so far," he said.
There were ideas the remains could’ve belonged to someone that was in the country illegally, a nomad, or someone distant from their family.
Artists created moldings of what the man could look like in several races and ethnic groups.
"We reached out to a family to try to get DNA to see if it could be their family member, but since they’re in Georgia illegally, they wouldn’t agree to meet with us or give us DNA," Weathersby said.
Agents sent DNA evidence to the FBI. They figured out dental records on the John Doe showed the man had more than $30,000 of work done.
"Victimology is the biggest clue that you’re going to have. Who did they know? Where did they work? Who did they work with? Who had reasons to do away with them? Well if you don’t know who then you can’t start that part of it," Weathersby said.
He says it’s one of the toughest cases he’s had to solve, but is on a mission to figure out whose remains were along I-16.
"Don’t know if this guy was killed here. This person could’ve absolutely died of natural causes, but there is somebody out there missing a family member who wants to know what happened to this person," said Weathersby.
If you recognize this man or know how he died call the GBI Perry Office at 478-987-4545.