A barrel containing human remains has been found in Lake Mead after a prolonged mega-drought in the western United States caused a historic drop in water levels.
The barrel was discovered Sunday afternoon near the Hemenway Harbor on the Colorado River Reservoir near the city of Las Vegas.
Boaters who found the barrel alerted the National Park Service (NPS). the independent has contacted the NPS for comment.
In a statement, Las Vegas police said that on May 1, around 5:45 p.m., their department was notified of the discovery of a barrel containing human remains at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
“We believe this to be a homicide resulting from a gunshot wound,” said Homicide Section Lt. Ray Spencer.
Detectives believe the victim was murdered sometime between the mid-1970s and early 1980s, based on the clothing and footwear the victim was found wearing.
“I would say there is a very good chance that as the water level goes down, we will find additional human remains,” Las Vegas police Lt. Spencer told KLAS-TV on Monday.
The Clark County Coroner’s Office will release the victim’s identification when it becomes available. No further information was released due to the ongoing investigation.
A witness, Shawna Hollister, told KLAS-TV, “We were docking our boat to go home and we heard a woman scream. My husband went over and found the body.
“His shirt and belt were the only things we could see over his decomposing bones.”
Police also plan to contact experts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to analyze when the barrel began to erode.
The lake level has dropped so low that the upper intake of drought-affected Lake Mead became visible last week. The American West is suffering from a two-decade megadrought that is being exacerbated by the climate crisis.
The reservoir on the Colorado River behind the Hoover Dam has been so depleted that Las Vegas is now pumping water from deep within Lake Mead, which also extends into Arizona.
Lake Mead reached its highest point in July 1983, at 373.4 meters (1,225 ft) above sea level. Last Friday, the level was 1,055 feet (321.6 meters), about a third full.
Some of the steeper cliffs bordering the lake show 51.8 meters (170 ft) of white mineral “bathtub ring”.
Lake Mead, along with Lake Powell upriver, are the largest man-made reservoirs in the US, part of a system that provides water to more than 40 million people, tribes, agriculture and industry in Arizona, California , Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. , Utah, Wyoming and across the southern border from Mexico.
Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the LVMPD Homicide Section by phone at 702-828-3521, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 702-385-5555, or online at www.crimestoppersofnv.com.
AP contributed to this article