MONROE COUNTY, Ind. — The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department announced that they have identified the remains found by a turkey hunter almost 20 years ago.
In 2004, remains were found by Lake Lemon, in northern Monroe County, with signs from an investigation that foul play may have been involved.
“The remains were totally skeletal, but the anthropology team was able in total to recover approximately 53% of the body. That includes mainly the torso and up,” said Detective Alex Hahn with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. “There were sketches done, clay models. There was some DNA extraction done, his DNA was entered into various databases . . . However, the case went cold.”
Investigators say that new funding allowed them to examine the DNA by using the services of Othram, a private firm that helps law enforcement identify remains.
“Technology has evolved greatly over the years, especially in the 18 years since the remains were recovered. I was able to send them a couple bones and they were able to extract DNA that previously could not be extracted,” said Detective Hahn.
Those remains were identified as 38-year-old Steven Gabbard from Louisville, Kentucky. He was reported missing by his family and was last seen in Indianapolis. Othram requested the DNA of Gabbard’s nephew for comparison and a positive identification was made.
Part of an investigation in Indianapolis revealed information that he may have been the victim in a homicide.
“There was a federal investigation into someone involved in organized crime back in about 2002. During the course of that investigation, it was learned that Steven may have been met with foul play,” Detective Hahn said, though he would like to emphasis the word ‘may’. The remains were only just now identified, so the case still has more to uncover.
“We’ve gotten pretty lucky so far and it’s looking pretty good as far as having a chargeable case,” says Detective Hahn, “As early on in the investigation as far as a homicide, I am optimistic.”