Human Remains Found in Lake Mead Identified

They belong to a 52-year-old man who vanished in 1998
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 8, 2022 2:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 27, 2023 2:30 AM CDT
Yet More Human Remains Found in Lake Mead
A sign marks the water line from 2002 near Lake Mead at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Saturday, July 9, 2022, near Boulder City, Nev.   (AP Photo/John Locher)
UPDATE Apr 27, 2023 2:30 AM CDT

Yet another set of human remains found in Lake Mead have been identified. Remains found last year on July 25, August 6, and August 16 in the Boulder Beach area all belong to Claude Russell Pensinger, a 52-year-old Las Vegas man who disappeared in 1998, NBC News reports. He was fishing with his brother on the lake, in two separate boats, the last time he was seen, KLAS reports. He never showed up at a planned meeting spot. His remains are one of four sets found at the lake between May and October of last year as the drought-stricken lake receded, the Las Vegas Sun reports. One set was identified as a man who jumped from a boat in 2002; one was identified as a man who drowned in 1974; and one set, a homicide victim found in a barrel with a gunshot wound, remains unidentified.

Aug 8, 2022 2:00 AM CDT

More human remains have been found at drought-stricken Lake Mead National Recreation Area east of Las Vegas, authorities said Sunday. It’s the fourth time since May that remains have been uncovered as Western drought forces the shoreline to retreat at the shrinking Colorado River reservoir behind the Hoover Dam, the AP reports. National Park Service officials said rangers were called to the reservoir between Nevada and Arizona around 11am Saturday after skeletal remains were discovered at Swim Beach. Rangers and a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police dive team went to retrieve the remains.

Park Service officials said the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office will try to determine when and how the person died as investigators review records of missing people. On May 1, a barrel containing human remains was found near Hemenway Harbor. Police believe the remains were that of a man who died from a gunshot wound and the body was likely dumped in the mid-1970s to early 1980s. Less than a week later, authorities say human skeletal remains were found at Calville Bay. More recently, partial human remains were found in the Boulder Beach area on July 25.

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Police have speculated that more remains may be discovered as the water level at Lake Mead continues to recede. The discoveries have prompted speculation about long-unsolved missing person and murder cases dating back decades—to organized crime and the early days of Las Vegas, which is just a 30-minute drive from the lake. The lake surface has dropped more than 170 feet since the reservoir was full in 1983. Scientists say the US West, including the Colorado River basin, has become warmer and drier in the past 30 years.

(More Lake Mead stories.)

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