Police on Prince Edward Island hope reconstructive technology used to create a bust of a man found dead in Malpeque Bay almost 17 years ago will help generate new leads in the cold case.
On Tuesday, RCMP unveiled what they call a "facial approximation" based on the body of a man found in June 1997.
An autopsy couldn’t determine a formal cause of death. A search of missing person reports from across the region at the time failed to establish the man's identify.
He was buried without ever being identified.
Douglas Trowsbridge was a 25-year-old deckhand on the fishing boat that found the body.
"It's pretty sad that somebody can be missing for that long and doesn't have a friend or a family member that has put out a plea trying to find where they're at,” he said.
Body exhumed in 2010
With the file still open, the RCMP’s major crime unit looked into exhuming the man's remains in 2005 in hopes of identifying him. At the time the Coroner's Act didn’t allow exhumation unless the investigation was criminal.
After a change in legislation the man’s remains were exhumed in 2010.
His skull was handed over to a forensic artist, Sgt. Michel Fournier based in Fredericton. The skeletal remains were examined by physical anthropologist Dr. Moira McLaughlin at St. Thomas University.
Fournier and McLaughlin worked together to make the facial approximation of the man's face in hopes a family member, co-worker or someone from the public will be able to identify him.
As fishing season approaches, police hope the bust triggers people’s memories
"It brings people back to this time. It puts people as they're going out on the water they'll be thinking about this possibly and something may tweak somebody's memory,” said Sgt. Andrew Blackadar.
Police believe the man was about five foot 11 with several missing teeth. They believe his ages was between 25 and 40.
Island RCMP have set up a special toll free line, 1-855-618-6292, for anyone with information.