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DNA, Research Solves 50-Year-Old Mystery

The body of a man found in 1979 in the Civil Defense Caves of Clark County now has a name: Joseph Henry Loveless.

Loveless was born in 1870 in Payson, Utah Territory. He went by many names throughout his life and was frequently in jail. When explorers found his body in 1979 it was missing limbs and most notably his head. Over the years, the sheriff’s office has found his arms and legs, but his head is still missing.

“I don’t foresee us going in with any more excavation trying to locate (the head),” said Chief Deputy John Clements of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. “It would be fruitless for us unless we get further information.”

Thanks to the DNA Doe Project, Idaho State University’s Anthropology Department and many others, the DNA on the body was used to track down a living relative of the man. Fourteen volunteer genealogists spent more than 2,000 hours of research over 15 weeks to find his identity. They researched about 250 DNA cousins’ family trees between July and October 2019. Eventually, a living grandchild’s DNA was used to confirm the identity of Loveless.

Clements said without the help of the DNA Doe Project and volunteers, the sheriff’s office would have never learned the identity of Loveless.

While there are no answers as to who killed Loveless or exactly when his body was put in the cave, the last known record of Loveless is in 1916 when he escaped jail while facing a murder charge for the death of his wife Agnes.