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The Killing Season - Websleuths

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    908

    AZ - Todd Mertes, 25, Tonopah, Sept 1986

    The Doe Network:
    Hot Case 374

    Unidentified White Male


    • The victim was discovered on February 12, 1988 in Tonopah, Maricopa County, Arizona
    • Estimated Date of Death: 1-2 years prior to discovery.
    Vital Statistics


    • Estimated age: 19-35 years old
    • Approximate Height and Weight: 5'4"-5'8"
    • Distinguishing Characteristics: He had distinctive old healed fractures to his ribs; elements of his bones indicated that he may have been a person that spent a lot of time riding a motorcycle or doing another activity in a similar body position.
    • Other : X-rays of the rib fractures are available.
    • Dentals: Available; he has several dental restorations.
    Case History
    The victim was located near Interstate 10 and 339th Avenue in a desert area in Maricopa County, Arizona on February 12, 1988.

    Investigators
    If you have any information about this case please contact:
    Maricopa County Medical Examiner
    Forensic Science Center
    602-506-3322



    http://www.doenetwork.org/hot/hotcase374.html


    Kind of a long shot and who knows how much help this would be, but I wonder if this guy could have been a jockey or exercise rider? It says his bones suggested that he spent a lot of time riding a motorcycle or doing another activity in that position-eg a crouched, sitting position. With him being so young, I wonder how his bones could have been affected by maybe 3 years of riding motorcycles versus a lifetime of riding horses. Plus this would account for the rib fractures, and his small stature fits with this theory.

    I haven't searched for missing jockeys, but assuming none are found, should I call in this possible lead?


    Kelly
    Last edited by CarlK90245; 06-07-2012 at 04:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    908
    Turf Paradise Racetrack is located in Phoenix, AZ, approximately 50 miles away. There may have been breeding and training farms closer to Tonopah, or his body may have been dumped where he was found--if he had some association with racehorses.

    Also, I can't find any missing jockeys or exercise riders that would match this UID, but given the transient nature of the racetrack employee's lives, it is possible that he was never reported missing, or if he was that it was not taken seriously.

    What do you guys think?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    southwest US
    Posts
    1,687
    IMO there were probably not any training farms in the Tonopah area--it is very much dry desert there. As a matter of fact, there is not much of anything there. It is, however, right off of I-10, which is a major throughfare between points east to Palm Springs and Los Angeles. I am thinking that he may have been a motorcyclist who may have been struck by a truckdriver or another car, and they perhaps then stole his bike??? Another possible is that there are train tracks that run parallel to I-10. Maybe he was riding the trains and fell off?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    19,250
    His link has changed, he is now
    http://doenetwork.org/cases/1563umaz.html
    Also:
    https://identifyus.org/cases/3728



    Investigation showed that he was the victim of a homicide in the area of North 35th Avenue and West Palm Lane in September of 1986. Witnesses described the victim as using the name “Mike.” However, this may not be his real name.
    he had
    Healed fractured ribs, healed T-9 fracture

    Doe says DNA is available, Namus says it's insufficient for profiling.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Northeast USA
    Posts
    3,538
    strange story. the UID is known to be a homicide victim in a specific location in September 1986 but his skeletal remains were found in a different location 17 months later? I wonder how they know it is the same victim?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    19,250
    Quote Originally Posted by Donjeta View Post

    Doe says DNA is available, Namus says it's insufficient for profiling.
    Then again,
    http://www.maricopa.gov/Medex/Uniden...aseNum=88-0356 says DNA has been entered into CODIS.

    http://phoenix.gov/police/unid_02121988.pdf
    says DNA is on file.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    El Segundo, California
    Posts
    7,486
    The decedent has been identified as Todd Mertes, according to NamUs.

    https://identifyus.org/en/cases/2070

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    9,734
    Just ran across this great article and it has a picture of Mr. Mertes.

    DNA test, police work end mother’s quest for son
    For two decades, a forensic anthropologist held out hope for answers about the life behind bones found in a desert.

    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/201...WS01/706089894

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    1,613
    Quote Originally Posted by KateB View Post
    Just ran across this great article and it has a picture of Mr. Mertes.

    DNA test, police work end motherís quest for son
    For two decades, a forensic anthropologist held out hope for answers about the life behind bones found in a desert.

    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/201...WS01/706089894
    Great article!!
    ------------------------------------------------------------


    Tammie McCormick, 13, missing since 1986 http://www.websleuths.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=128676

    Jaliek Rainwalker, 12, missing since 2007 http://www.websleuths.com/forums/showthread.php?t=55811

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Posts
    19,250


  11. #11
    “If there is a lesson to be learned from Todd’s story, it’s that family members should check back with agencies who they think have an active missing person report, especially if it’s been more than 10 years,” said Scharf in the news release. “The tools and technology have advanced so much in recent years. It may be possible to locate or identify someone that we couldn’t have 10 or 20 years ago and give peace to the family.”
    http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/...sing-26-years/

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    19,921
    Fro June 2012:

    http://www.heraldnet.com/article/201...WS01/706089894

    A week or two before he was stabbed, he called his sister, telling her he'd run into some trouble with some dangerous people in the drug business. He needed to hide, but first he wanted to see her and his nephew. He talked of meeting up at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Mertes never called back...

    The family recently learned that Mertes was killed during an argument with an acquaintance in the Phoenix area. The suspect, Michael Alan Root, died in 2008 in a Michigan prison while serving life for killing an elderly couple a year after he likely stabbed Mertes...

    Maricopa County sheriff's detectives received a tip in 1987 about the homicide. The woman told investigators that a friend's husband murdered a man during an argument in 1986. The victim, who went by Mike, had been staying with the couple. The informant said Root repeatedly stabbed the man... Root and his wife put the man in a sleeping bag and drove him out to the desert. There they lit the sleeping bag on fire.



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