KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCSC) – The autopsy of a man found dead on a river bank is now complete, but the coroner's office is not releasing the information, until he has been identified. Authorities say the man washed up on Kiawah Island last week, but at this point very few clues have emerged as to who he is, and they're asking for your help.
The Charleston County Coroner's office goes through several steps to make a positive identification. Coroner Rae Wooten says if there a body with no identification and no matches with missing persons reports, next they would take finger prints and compare them to stored databases.
"That would be our local fingerprint database as well as SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.) We can also run them through an FBI database, and beyond that through ICE," Wooten said.
If no leads turn up, the coroner goes to the media for the public's help. A specially trained forensic sketch artist will recreate what the unknown person looked like before after death changes took place.
"Certain things aren't going to change, whether you have low set eyes, wide set eyes, whether your hair line grows low, or receded, whether the ears are large, small, the nose, is it prominent, but we can't account totally for the changes that may have happened," Wooten said.
If the coroner's office has enough information on a possible victim, they move forward with contacting that person's family to find out more information.
"Who's his dentist? Has he ever had any surgeries, broken bones? A certain birth mark, scars, tattoos? Those people are going to be the ones who know those pieces of information. We can use some of those kinds of information to make positive identification, some are probable, some are positive," Wooten said.
Depending on the clues the coroner's office has to start with will determine what steps they will take next. Following the identification of a body, it is then the coroner's job to notify family members and make a final determination of a person's manner of death.
The man has now been added to the Institute of Justice "Namus" database, which is a federal missing persons database. The man is described as about 5'9'' and 160 pounds, with a full beard and mustache, dark brown to black colored hair, and between the age of 20 to 50 years old.
If you recognize him please call the coroner's office at 746-4030.