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  1. #1
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    VA - Rockbridge Co., WhtMale 149UMVA, 20-40, hitchhiker 'Chris', May'87

    "Chris" (?)
    Unidentified White Male
    Discovered on May 18, 1987 near mile post 183 on Interstate 81 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.
    Cause of death was homicide by gunshot wound to the head and abdomen.
    Vital Statistics
    Estimated age: 21 - 22 years old
    Approximate Height and Weight: 5'4"; 150 lbs.
    Distinguishing Characteristics: Brown hair. Wedge shape narrow mouth. Near sighted. Wore black plastic frame glasses. Eyeglasses were of a military type issue. Prescription for near-sightedness.
    Dentals: Available. Lower 6 year molars removed around age 10; upper eye teeth removed around age 13; may have needed braces.
    Clothing: He wore Spec. 4 military shirt and brown winter coat with wool interior and long horn steer belt buckle. He had a metal crucifix with chain, switch blade knife, cigarette lighter, cassette tape, eye glasses, pocket size memo pad and $10.12 in cash.
    Fingerprints: Available

    Case History
    On May 27, 1987, highway workers discovered a partially decomposed body along 81 South, Mile Post 183. The victim died as a result of a gunshot wound to the right side of the head and right side of the body. Handwritten notes in the victims pocket referred to a truck and trailer number and the trucking firm of J.B. Hunt Trucking Company out of Lowell, Arkansas. A check of this company revealed that John Swartz was operating a tractor-trailer through Virginia at this time.

    John Swartz, who was convicted in this homicide, left Little Rock, Arkansas on May 16, 1987 with a load of toys to be delivered to Edison, New Jersey. Along the way he picked up "Chris" at the Petro Truckstop in Wytheville, Virginia, four to five hours away from this destination. At the truckstop, Chris told John he had been stuck at the truck stop for two days without food. Chris stated he was trying to get to an uncertain (unrecalled by convicted killer) location to go camping. John made an offer to pay Chris for unloading his truck.

    They arrived in New Jersey on the 18th of May and he paid Chris fifty dollars for unload help. Chris bought food and a small folding knife with this money. An argument ensued over money with Chris demanding $100 and several of Swartz's personal items in the truck. Chris threatened to turn in John for having an unauthorized rider, and at some point put his John's name and truck company in his pocket. The next day they got another load, and started back toward Arkansas. While at a truck stop in Raphine, Virginia, Swartz said that Chris pulled out his knife, and made threats of harm if he did not get more money or Swartz's personal items. Around 4 a.m., several miles down Interstate 81, Swartz pulled over to the shoulder, and told Chris that he had to relieve himself. Chris soon got out and at this time, the defendant was shot and killed. The next morning Swartz discarded Chris' possessions and continued on to Arkansas. Swartz died in prison.

    A sketch of the victim is on the below link. The accuracy of the sketch is unknown. It was compiled with the aide of the convicted killer.

    The victim was gathering camping supplies for a hike on a trail (believed to be the Appalachian Trail). Victim misspelled simple words.

    Investigators
    If you have any information about this case please contact:

    Virginia State Police - BCI
    First Sergeant George Gibbs
    540-375-9546
    Source Information:
    ID Wanted Organization
    The Doe Network: Case File 149UMVA

    Link:
    http://doenetwork.org/cases/149umva.html
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 11-23-2012 at 06:22 PM. Reason: updated doe network link

  2. #2
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    Military Man...

    This is a case which was actually "solved" in that a person was arrested, charged and convicted of murder. In fact, he confessed to it. The problem is that the victim remains unidentified.

    Two clues indicate that he may have served in the military shortly before his death, most likely in the Army. He was wearing a shirt with a Specialist Four rank insignia on the sleeve. This would have been an indication that he had acheived the rank of E-4, and it probably took him at least two or three years of service to have attained that rank. Someone on active duty, or serving in the reserves, would not normally wear parts of their uniform with civilian clothing.

    While anyone might have picked up a used army shirt at a thrift store, the more telling clue would be the prescription, Army issue eyeglasses. Those frames were not "in style" as far as civilian wear was concerned. They are often referred to a "BC" glasses - a military acrynym meaning Birth Control Glasses, since wearing them tends to guarantee that you won't get any dates. But someone who has gotten used to wearing them, and who doesn't have money for a new pair might continue to wear them after leaving the military.

    Assuming that the age estimation is accurate, this would have meant that this young man probably served sometime between 1981 and 1987, with a possibility that he served a 4 year hitch from 1982 to 1986 (age 18-22).

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    Two clues indicate that he may have served in the military shortly before his death, most likely in the Army. He was wearing a shirt with a Specialist Four rank insignia on the sleeve. This would have been an indication that he had acheived the rank of E-4, and it probably took him at least two or three years of service to have attained that rank. Someone on active duty, or serving in the reserves, would not normally wear parts of their uniform with civilian clothing.

    While anyone might have picked up a used army shirt at a thrift store, the more telling clue would be the prescription, Army issue eyeglasses. Those frames were not "in style" as far as civilian wear was concerned. They are often referred to a "BC" glasses - a military acrynym meaning Birth Control Glasses, since wearing them tends to guarantee that you won't get any dates. But someone who has gotten used to wearing them, and who doesn't have money for a new pair might continue to wear them after leaving the military.

    Assuming that the age estimation is accurate, this would have meant that this young man probably served sometime between 1981 and 1987, with a possibility that he served a 4 year hitch from 1982 to 1986 (age 18-22).
    By early '87, the Army had totally phased out the "fatigue" uniform (solid olive drab) in favor of the BDU (camo Battle Dress Uniform). The fatigue was the last uniform to display rank on the sleeve (the BDU displays the rank on the collar). As I recall, by the spring of '87 the fatigue uniform was no longer authorized for wear. The black-frame issued glasses had been phased out prior to that (in the Army, at least) in favor of "tortoise shell" brown frames. At that time, 18-month "hitches" were still available, but also being phased out in favor of minimum 3-year enlistments.

  4. #4
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    The indentity of this victim should be known. There is enouch identifying information.
    Why does he remain unkown is the question I have? Eye glasses have have identification information on the arms usually. I would imagine those issued by the military have even more idenifiable info on them. It should be possible to track down who those glasses were issued to.

    mjak

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjak
    The indentity of this victim should be known. There is enouch identifying information.
    Why does he remain unkown is the question I have? Eye glasses have have identification information on the arms usually. I would imagine those issued by the military have even more idenifiable info on them. It should be possible to track down who those glasses were issued to.

    mjak
    Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case. I still have the sunglasses I was issued prior to Desert Storm, and the frames have no information on them whatsoever.

  6. #6
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    I don't know if non perscription sunglasses carry the same type of identification as perscroption glasses issues by a military eye doctor. I know the coke bottle nerd glasses I am forced to wear have an encylopedia written on their arms, lol. Were your sunglasses perscription ones?

    mjak

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjak
    I don't know if non perscription sunglasses carry the same type of identification as perscroption glasses issues by a military eye doctor. I know the coke bottle nerd glasses I am forced to wear have an encylopedia written on their arms, lol. Were your sunglasses perscription ones?

    mjak
    Yep. I have worn prescription glasses since I was eight years old. When I entered the Army, they issued me prescription glasses (which I never wore after basic, of course). When my unit deployed to Saudi Arabia, I had new sunglasses prescribed. (Never wore them, either).

  8. #8
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    Military Eyeglass Prescription Information...

    Quote Originally Posted by mjak
    The indentity of this victim should be known. There is enouch identifying information.
    Why does he remain unkown is the question I have? Eye glasses have have identification information on the arms usually. I would imagine those issued by the military have even more idenifiable info on them. It should be possible to track down who those glasses were issued to.
    I have never seen actual prescription information or serial numbers on military eyeglass frames. The frames are probably made by a number of different companies, and the company's name appears on the frame and bows, along with a style number or frame size.

    The actual prescription for the glass, and frame size is all included on a small paper DD Form 771, which measures 8.5 inches by 5.5 inches. These forms have been in use since 1968 without change (at least into this century) and were usually filled out by hand, but often retyped on a computerized similar form by the place filling the order for glasses. DD stands for Department of Defense, so all branches of the military used the same form to order glasses, although the types of available frames may have differed from one branch to the other.

    A copy of the form was retained by the clinic which prescribed the glasses, and a copy was mailed to the place where the glasses were actually made. The glasses were generally mailed directly from the place of manufacture to the person in a small cardboard box, which included the glasses, a case, and the carbon copy of the DD Form 771. If the person wanted the glasses adjusted or checked out, he (or she) had to go back to the Optometrist on base and bring them in.

    I do not know if records are kept for years prior to 1987, and if they were, whether or not they could be scanned by prescription and frame size/style. Probably not. BUT it would seem that more information might be available through a careful study of those glasses, and a search for records.

    Regarding Military Issue Black Plastic Glasses; I know that they were still being issued as late as June 1994 by the Navy.

  9. #9
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    I wouldn't think actual perscription information would be found on the glasses. However, Brand, Stock #'s and often other manufacturing information can be found. I was hoping maybe the military has somekind of identifying info put on what they issue. I would hope that the investigating officers have allready reserarched this avenue. There is also the possibiity that these glasses and shrit were picked up at a thrift store or elsewhere and Chris has no militray ties. Since he was estimated to be no older then 23 in 1987 if he did serve in the military it would have to be no earlier then 1981. Does the military have photo records of people or yearbooks?

    mjak

  10. #10
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    Belt Buckle and Crucifix...

    Two clues which might point to this man's identity are the metal crucifix and belt buckle. The Crucifix quite probably indicates that he is a Catholic. The Belt Buckle with the Longhorn Steer could indicate that he is from Texas, or that he had an afinity for Texas or Cowboys. Possibly he was into rodeos and that type of competition.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
    Two clues which might point to this man's identity are the metal crucifix and belt buckle. The Crucifix quite probably indicates that he is a Catholic. The Belt Buckle with the Longhorn Steer could indicate that he is from Texas, or that he had an afinity for Texas or Cowboys. Possibly he was into rodeos and that type of competition.
    Although I live in Pennsylvania now, I'm from Texas, and Longhorn Steer belt buckles are very common. So although the buckle may show that he had an afinity for Texas or cowboys, it may have no connection to rodeos or any type of cowboy activities. It's possible he went to the University of Texas, their mascot is a longhorn steer named "Bevo". But since this man apparently couldn't spell simple words, that's probably unlikely.

    I wonder what type of cassette tape he had? And what did he write on the pocket memo pad?

  12. #12
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    Shoes...

    One thing that is not mentioned in the information about this man is his shoes. So much information can be gained sometimes by knowing what type of shoes a person wears. How a person walks (or runs), type of wear patterns, stylish versus practical, etc can be learned by studying the shoes. Shoe size itself might be a crucial bit of identifying information.

    I find that this is a common omission in many of the Doenetwork files and those on other websites.

    Forrest Gump hit the nail on the head at the very beginning of the movie when he starts his narrative with remarks about those "Comfortable Shoes..."

  13. #13
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    Couple fyis on this case. The sketch of him could be completely off. It was done by an artist based on what the killer told the artist the guy looked like. His skull was fractured so badly there was no possibility of putting it together to do a reconstruction.

    The "prior military" comes from the trucker and may not be true. The trucker/killer had a friend who had died that week, and he said Chris reminded him a lot of his military friend in actions and mannerism.

  14. #14
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    Prior Military...

    Quote Originally Posted by marylandmissing
    Couple fyis on this case. The sketch of him could be completely off. It was done by an artist based on what the killer told the artist the guy looked like. His skull was fractured so badly there was no possibility of putting it together to do a reconstruction.

    The "prior military" comes from the trucker and may not be true. The trucker/killer had a friend who had died that week, and he said Chris reminded him a lot of his military friend in actions and mannerism.
    I did not see any reference in the Doenetwork file to those statements by the trucker. I only drew my conclusions from the two military items found with the victim, those being the Spec 4 patch on a military shirt, and a pair of military issue prescription glasses.

  15. #15
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    The "CHRIS" file says the trucker left Little Rock, Arkansas on May 16, 1987 with a load of toys to be delivered to Edison, New Jersey.

    There is no reason in my mind why a trucker would be going by the Petro in Wytheville on his way to Edison, New Jersey if he were coming from Little Rock, Arkansas.
    The Petro in Wytheville is approx. 50 miles from my home. This is the first time I have ever heard about this man being found. "Chris" has some disturbing similarities to a childhood friend of mine. A friend I haven't seen since around 1987, not absolutely sure about the year. I just know he left our hometown going to California. He wore a military shirt a lot. The shirt belonged to his much older brother who was in the army. His brother committed suicide while still in service. My friend cherished the shirt. The age, height, and weight match. The note pad. The glasses, were just cheap black rimmed glasses because that was all he could afford. I have not heard from him or any of his family since he left. I am going to try and contact someone in his family if I can find one of them. They are strewn all across the US.

    I don't believe this truckers story at all!

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