South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Pines police dive into the past, trying to ID unnamed dead
By Sofia Santana, Sun Sentinel
10:43 PM EDT, September 10, 2010
When police opened two dusty boxes of bones, they found a portal to a bygone era when "cocaine cowboys" wrecked havoc and overgrown fields covered much of the city.
The bones belonged to two men found dead in the early '80s whose identities are still unknown.
Armed with new forensic sketches of what the men may have looked like, Pembroke Pines police Officer Donna Velasquez is diving into the past seeking to finally uncover their names.
She's hoping someone will recognize the faces in the sketches, even after all these years.
"He belongs to somebody," she says, looking at one of the black-and-white drawings. "He doesn't need to be in a morgue. He needs a proper burial."
The bones have sat in boxes at the Broward Medical Examiner's Office for almost three decades.
One of the cases is a homicide that Velasquez said is likely connected to the Outlaws motorcycle gang.
On Jan. 7, 1984, police found the charred remains of 19-year-old Tammy Gale Crider in an overgrown field near what today is the intersection of Northwest 184th Avenue and Pines Boulevard. Crider had been shot and her body set on fire, police said.
As investigators probed that crime scene, a patrol officer piped up that he thought something wasn't right.
"One of the police officers on patrol at the time kept saying he smelled something," Velasquez said. "He went back out the next day and found the guy's body."
The man's body was about 70 yards from where police found Crider's remains.
Outlaws member David Hugh Walker Jr. was charged in Crider's death; Velasquez calls him a suspect in the unidentified man's death. Walker died in a South Miami-Dade prison in 1987 while awaiting trial with other Outlaws on racketeering charges.
Police also suspect the Outlaws in the unidentified man's death because of the particularly brutal nature of the crime, a brutality the gang had a reputation for, Velasquez said. Someone had shoved a hankerchief down the victim's throat, wrapped his head in duct tape, tied his hands and shot him at least three times before setting the body on fire, Velasquez said.
The man's body had been in the field for about two weeks.
Forensic anthropologist Dr. Heather Walsh-Haney, working closely with investigators at the Broward Medical Examiner's Office, has pored over the bones. She took measurements for complex equations that help determine how old the bones may have been and noted any bone characteristics that are unique to certain ethnic groups, and created the approximate profile of the victim's body.
Using techniques and tools that hadn't been developed in the early 1980s, Walsh-Haney recently determined the victim was white or Hispanic, 24 to 34 years old and 5-foot-2 to 5-foot-5.
He had brown hair, stained teeth, a chipped front tooth and several cavities.
Walsh-Haney's analysis also found that the man had suffered some leg injuries when he was younger, and may have complained of pain from slight herniations in his lower back.
Few details are available in the other cold case, which dates to Feb. 13, 1982.
The man's body was so decomposed investigators could not determine how he died, but Velasquez said the case is suspicious.
"He was found too far away from the road for it to be a traffic fatality," she said. The body had been buried under some brush off a dirt road that is now Southwest 172nd Avenue, just south of Pines Boulevard.
The man was white, 30 to 57 years old and from 5-foot-4 to 6-foot-1. He had brown hair and some distinct physical characteristics: a marked overbite, healed rib fractures, a curved spine from scoliosis and a hip defect that may have caused him to walk with a limp, Velasquez said.
The man was well-dressed, found in Calvin Klein jeans, a Pierre Cardin sweater and black loafers.
Velasquez wonders if he was a victim of South Florida's cocaine wars.
Solving the mystery of who he was may be the only way to unlock the secret of how he died, she said.
Police ask that anyone with information about either case contact Officer Velasquez at 954-436-3279 or Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477).http://www.sun-sentinel.com/fl-pines-unide...284,print.story
Copyright © 2010, South Florida Sun-Sentinel