PUNTA GORDA, Fla. (WWSB) - Police now have one more piece to help them solve a decades-old cold case murder in Southwest Florida. The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office was able to use new technology as a way to get an updated sketch of what this victim looked like.
In February of 1994, 26 years ago, a man was found dead in the woods in Punta Gorda. He had no clothing, no teeth and absolutely nothing to identify him or even know what happened to him. Since then, he’s been known as John Doe and the first of many bodies discovered from the Hog Trail Murders.
Four other men in similar, desolate areas across Charlotte and Sarasota counties were found dead just a couple of years later. All of the victims were found naked with their genitals mutilated, leading detectives to believe one killer was responsible.
“We went back and we found what we believe to be rope markings some sort of marks on the trees near where this body was found, and that was Daniel Conahan’s motive. It was to use bondage and tie his victims to trees,” Detective Mike Gandy, from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, explained.
They’ve only been able to charge Daniel Conahan with the murder of one of them. However, police believe all these murders can be linked to him and that’s why he’s since been known as the Hog Trail Killer.
“The areas where they were found had been rooted up by hogs, so he was designated as the Hog Trail Killer,” said Detective Mile Vogley, from the Cold Case Unit at the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.
Detectives have since been able to identify three of these men. So now, Charlotte County deputies worked with Palm Beach County’s Forensic Imaging Unit to create a new artist’s rendering of what John Doe #1 might have looked like hoping that someone will recognize him.
“We would like to identify him for the family so they could get some piece of mind of what happened to him. And in our case, even though we thinking Mr. Conahan is likely the person to kill him, we don’t know that to be a 100 percent truth,” Detective Mile Vogley explained.
The North Port Police Department hopes to do the same and identify the other victim that is still unknown.
“We’re hopeful that our medical examiner will allow us to do this and see what light it sheds. It might help paint a picture of who this is, and maybe even retain some DNA to do some newer testing as well,” Josh Taylor told us.
If you recognize John Doe #1 or know anything about him, you’re asked to call the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office.