On April 20th, 2012 at 3:42 pm, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a badly decomposed body found near the South Platte River on private property. The approximate area of the body was half mile west of U.S. Highway 83 near the South Platte River channel. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Investigators responded to the location and secured it. Investigators found and confirmed human skeletal remains. The sex, age and race of the subject is unknown at this time. There wasn’t any identification located on or near the body.
Sheriff’s Office Investigators searched the area and collected evidence for several hours. The remains were removed from the location and placed in evidence. Forensic examination of the remains is to follow, in the days to come. The cause of death at this time is unknown; Sheriff Office Investigators hope Forensic testing may help determine how the subject died. The case is an open Death Investigation; further information will be released as the case progresses.
Sheriff’s Office Investigators continue their efforts to identify the male subject found April 2012 along the banks of the South Platte River. An autopsy revealed nothing that would indicate foul play. The deceased subject was identified as a 43-55 year-old male of Caucasoid ancestry. The subject was likely between 5’4” to 5’6” tall. The individual likely had open heart surgery and extensive dental work.
Forensic Odontologists examined the teeth of the male subject and found he had very high quality and very expensive dental work. There were gold filling, porcelain fillings, root canals and a "Flipper", a fake tooth attached to an upper retainer. Forensic Odontologists advised there is evidence on the teeth that they had been brushed a lot and the deceased person had a very high dental I.Q. The individual’s dental records are now entered into the national data base.
Investigators also sent select bones from the deceased person to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification. They hoped to obtain a DNA profile from the subject. University of North Texas does these tests for no cost to law enforcement. Examination of the bones continues.
Also the skull of the deceased was sent to project EDAN in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Project EDAN consists of 23 experienced, certified Forensic Artists who volunteer their time and talent to assist law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners with the investigation of unidentified decedents. Project EDAN forensic artists create composite sketches and clay reconstructions of unidentified human remains from skulls and post mortem photographs. The attached photographs are a creation of the artists.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office hopes the photographs may help identify this subject. Anyone with information may contact the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Investigation Division at (308) 535-9599. Investigation Continues.
Update April 10th, 2013
On April 1st 2013 Investigators from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a letter from the University of North Texas in reference the Missing Person DNA Database. Investigators were informed of a match from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Laboratory to the sample submitted by North Texas was consistent with convicted offender 64 year old Denys Ray Hughes.
Mr. Hughes was convicted in 2005 and serving time in prison for attempting to make deadly biological toxins (Ricin) and bomb making materials. He was serving his time in Colorado and was to report to a halfway house in Milwaukee WI. On May 25th 2011, when he did not show up to the halfway house, a warrant was issued for his arrest from the United States Marshals service for Escape.
It is possible Mr. Hughes got off the bus here in North Platte and was in this area until his death in late 2011 or early 2012.
Mr. Hughes only known next of kin will be notified by the U.S. Marshal Service. Mr. Hughes has a sister living in Wisconsin and arrangements will be made to get his remains back to her.
Denys Ray Hughes was 64 years old at the time of his death. There were no signs of foul play. Mr. Hughes would have been on medication for his heart condition and he was a diabetic. Being on the run, it’s probable he was not getting his medications which could have been a large factor in his death. The investigation in this matter is closed. Mr. Hughes likely died of natural causes.