Unidentified murder victim may be linked to Florida killer on death row

Florida

(Photo: Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office)

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office says its working to determine whether a body found 25 years ago is linked to the suspected serial killer in the “Hog Trail Murders.”

With the help of new technology, the agency released an updated image of a man dubbed John Doe #1.

On a cool morning in 1994, the body of John Doe was found in the woods behind an intersection in Charlotte County.

The sheriff’s office said an autopsy determined the man was between 25-35 years of age. He also had a surgical rod in his ankle due to prior surgery. Investigators contacted all of the patients in the area who received similar pins and confirmed they were all alive and well. Then the case went cold.

That was until 1996, when a dog found a skull in the neighboring city of North Port and more bodies were discovered nearby.

In total, there were five bodies in three separate crime scenes. All of the victims were found in similar locations, naked with their genitals mutilated, leading detectives to believe one killer was responsible. They believed the killer had been targeting white males between the ages of 20-35, who were transient, authorities said.

After identifying one of the victims, 21-year-old Richard Montgomery, detectives began developing new leads. Then they got a tip from an inmate who identified Daniel Conahan Jr. as the killer.

The inmate said Conahan would go around asking men to go into the woods and pose nude for money. One day, he took him up on the offer and noticed various items in the back seat of Conahan’s vehicle, including a tarp, rope and knife. He was able to escape after their vehicle got stuck, the man recalled.

According to detectives, another inmate came forward after an encounter with Conahan, in which he had to free himself from Conahan’s ties and escape.

Detectives obtained a warrant to search Conahan’s home and vehicle. They said a paint chip found on Montgomery’s body matched the paint on Conahan’s car.

Conahan was arrested and later sentenced to death in the murder of Richard Montgomery. He remains the prime suspect in two other murders, detectives said. Detective are working to determine whether he killed John Doe #1 as well, but first, they will need to know his identity.

The man is described as a 25- to 45-year-old white or Hispanic man, between 5 feet, 5 inches and 5 feet, 9 inches, weighing 125 to 175 pounds.

Authorities are asking anyone with information on the case to call the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office at 941-639-0013.

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