Officials in Highland Mills search for remains of a John Doe

HIGHLAND MILLS, Orange County (WABC) -- Buried in a grave on the edge of the Cemetery of the Highlands, the body of a John Doe is expected to be exhumed by New York State Police sometime soon.

State Police have spent most of the day Thursday looking to exhume the skeletal remains. John Doe was buried here a number of years ago, but officials are hoping to find the exact location.

"It's a cold case from 1969," said Senior Investigator Yan Salomon. "We are trying to identify the remains of a person who was killed in Tuxedo, New York who was shot."

Footage from Newscopter Seven, shows work underway early Thursday morning as an excavator digs for the remains of the victim who was buried in Highland Mills.

His decomposed body was found in January of 1969 in a brook off of Route 17 in Tuxedo. What makes John Doe interesting is that he is the oldest unidentified Missing-Persons case in New York State.

"With today's technology, we hope that we can find a family member's match by taking his DNA," said Salomon.

When the victim was discovered, he was thought to be between 45 and 55 years old about 5 feet 5 inches tall. He was wearing brown pants, brown socks and a white undershirt. He was wearing a St. Christopher meal and a Longine Wittrnaur watch.

Working off cemetery records, police dug in the unmarked grave but did not find the metal coffin in which the victim was buried.

Police say a number of murder victims were found dumped in Orange County and the surrounding counties in the late 1960s and 70s. They think this case and other could be mob related.

Officials cannot confirm whether that is the case, though. Salomon is hoping that the slow identification process will eventually yield DNA from a family member.
Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.