FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn’s Unidentified Bodies Project initiative has resulted in the positive identification of a victim whose identity was unknown for 17 years, prompting a renewed suspicious death investigation.
The Bristol County DA’s Office worked with the Massachusetts State Police Unresolved Unit and the Fall River Police Department and have identified the John Doe as 41-year-old Leon Brown from Boston using advanced fingerprint techniques. Brown, who had been missing since August 2005, suffered from multiple sclerosis and had difficulty walking.
Fall River Police discovered Brown’s body at the BFI landfill on August 29, 2005. Police observed the body of an African American man who appeared to be approximately 5’8″, 180lbs and between the age of 30-40 years old. Officials said Brown was not initially reported missing and the leg braces he wore were not on his legs nor were they found anywhere near the scene.
The autopsy revealed that Brown’s body showed signs of decomposition and the medical examiner determined he had died within approximately a week of his body being discovered. A further search at the landfill in the area where Brown’s body was found suggested that his body might have been transported to the landfill in a dump truck from Peabody or the North Shore area. Attempts to identify Brown’s body at the time were unsuccessful. A full DNA profile was later developed and entered into CODIS and NamUS, but those efforts also did not result in identifying the body.
The human remains found at the landfill, along with several others, have been undergoing renewed testing from nationally recognized agencies and labs who specialize in using the most modern forensic technologies for identification of human remains as part of Quinn’s expansion of his Cold Case unit.
“This case highlights why I decided to expand our Cold Case Unit to include unidentified human remains and missing persons,” Quinn said. “I am very pleased that we were able to identify Leon Brown, and that his previously unmarked grave will no longer just be an unidentified plot number in the cemetery. We are now focused on investigating the circumstances surrounding his suspicious death.”
Investigators are now probing this case as suspicious death based on all of the circumstances surrounding Brown’s disappearance, death and disposal of his body in the Fall River Landfill. Boston Police and the Essex County District Attorney’s State Police Detective Unit are now assisting in this ongoing investigation.
Officials ask anyone who may have information regarding Brown’s case to contact them at 508-961-1918.
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