5:23 PM EST, January 16, 2013
Bones found by farmers and fishermen in our area are not resting in peace, but in limbo. Could computer scans, clay models and DNA help give them an identity? The state hopes you can help give an answer.
The state medical examiner's office worked with the FBI to make clay busts from skulls found in remote parts of four southwest Virginia counties.
One from last year, found in Cana in Carroll County. Investigators think the remains are of a 26- 35-year-old, possibly of Asian or Hispanic descent. In 2011, bones were found near a trailer park in Lee County. Those, plus a third set of remains found in Pittsylvania County in 2005 could all be migrant workers, possibly from Mexico or Guatemala. Deputies have been trying to track down possible leads, but it's hard to make contact in other countries.
One, however, was found on the railroad tracks in Covington more than 25 years ago. It was one of the first John Doe cases for rookie cop Kevin Hall, who's now the Alleghany County Sheriff.
He thinks it's a man named Michael Purdue. He hopes family in Florida and Michigan may see him.
"The reason we have the hunch," he said. "Is we went back and talked to people that were there, the officers at the time and they think this is a match."
You'd be wrong if you thought there wasn't a good shot these faces will trigger a memory. They've tried it before in the eastern part of the state-- putting these faces out there in the media-- and it's worked. Half the time in Tidewater and Richmond, family saw the face and helped close the chapter on a mystery.
Now the hope is to get anyone with a missing family member to donate DNA to a national database.
To find out how to sign up for the national database so your DNA can be matched with remains all around the country, click here.
To learn more about the Virginia Department of Health's program to identify the remains, click here.
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