TOOELE, Utah — Authorities in Utah think they finally know the identity of a man who was found dead 39 years ago near a landfill along the Nevada border.
Tooele County Sheriff Paul Wimmer said he's confident the body is that of David Stack, of Broomfield, Colorado, who was 18 when he was last seen June 1, 1976, with a plan to hitchhike to California.
"We strongly suspect it is him," Wimmer told the Deseret News newspaper of Salt Lake City (http://bit.ly/1EbSRNm ). "It makes sense, and we have no reason to believe it's anybody but him."
The identity won't be confirmed until the DNA and dental testing is complete, which could take six to eight months, the sheriff said.
The man's body was exhumed this week to collect DNA and dental samples. Stack's family has submitted their own DNA samples for comparison.
Stack's ultimate California destination was possibly his siblings' homes in Truckee or Berkeley, but he never reached either, according to authorities.
A young man's body was found later in June 1976 outside Wendover, a desert town along Interstate 80. The unidentified man had been shot twice, and his death was ruled a homicide. The body was buried in the Tooele cemetery.
But authorities were unable to positively identify the man. No identification was found on the victim, and national databases weren't as good as they are today, Wimmer said.
"If you were killed and you didn't have your ID on you ... it was difficult to identify a body," he said.
The case was reopened after a pair of sheriff's detectives attended a conference and learned new information about investigating cold cases.
Tooele County sheriff's investigators have been working with police in Broomfield, who have been in contact with Stack's family.
Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com