FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — A body found in a Fall River landfill 17 years ago has been identified through an ongoing initiative from the Bristol County District Attorney’s Office.
The agency’s Unidentified Bodies Project identified the man Thursday as 41-year-old Leon Brown of Boston.
In August 2005, police received a report of a body that was located at the BFI landfill site on Airport Road. An autopsy revealed the man had died within a week of his body being found.
Attempts to identify the man were unsuccessful, the DA’s office said, and a full DNA profile was later developed but still did not result in positive identification.
In an effort to close that and other similar cases, the DA’s office is having the remains retested with by labs using the latest technology. In Brown’s case, it was advanced fingerprinting techniques that allowed the unit to make an identification.
“I think it’s utilizing all of the technology to tap into databases where you can identify somebody, and that’s what happened in this case, by again, taking another look at it, running it through the FBI, we were able to identify Mr. Brown,” Quinn said.
The DA’s office said Brown’s death is considered suspicious based on the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, death, and disposal of the body.
Quinn says though Brown went missing in 2005, his family did not file a missing persons report until the following year.
“Later a woman who he was living with, indicated to the police that she was living with him, when she woke up the next morning, he was gone,” Quinn added.
Quinn says authorities learned Brown had been suffering from multiple sclerosis and had difficulty walking. Leg braces he wore were not found with his body, nor at the landfill, according to Quinn.
Earlier this week, members of the DA’s office located Brown’s unmarked grave and adorned it with flowers and a temporary marker.
“My office has been extremely successful in solving cold case homicides and sexual assaults from decades past,” DA Thomas Quinn III said in a news release. “This case highlights why I decided to expand our Cold Case Unit to include unidentified human remains and missing persons.”
“Each of these human remains was a living person who had hopes and human dignity,” he continued. “Doing everything we possibly can to identify them is a crucial first step in then determining what happened to them.”
Anyone with information regarding Brown’s case is asked to call (508) 961-1918.