Milford PD still hopes to ID torso found in 1994
Whoever killed the man whose torso was found in Milford 24 years ago wanted to make sure the victim would not be identified.
On March 24, 1994, a public works employee spotted a military-style duffel bag off the side of Old Oronoque Road, along the Housatonic River.
Inside, the employee found a hotel-style comforter, wrapped around what he thought was human bone. He called police.
Police found a male torso in the bag, with the head, arms and legs nowhere to be found. The torso was dressed in shorts and put into several layers of plastic bags tied tightly with shoelaces.
At first, investigators thought the bag washed ashore from the river, but a closer look showed it was never in the water and had to have been thrown from the roadway.
“The killer knew what they were doing,” said Detective Mitchell Warwick, referring to how the man’s limbs were severed from the torso.
He said whoever cut the legs, arms and head from the torso had knowledge of human anatomy. Maybe it was an avid hunter who knew “just where to cut,” Warwick said.
Warwick has been the lead detective on this cold case for three or four years, he said in an interview, surrounded by old news clippings and photos about the murder. A case goes cold once all leads at the time are exhausted.
Investigators quickly noticed a piece had been carved out of the recovered torso.
“It was likely a tattoo or a birthmark, something that could have helped us identify him,” Warwick said.
Dive teams searched the river and cadaver dogs searched the area after the discovery, to no avail.
“They just couldn’t find the rest of the body,” Warwick said.
Investigators figured out that the victim was likely around 5 feet 5 inches tall, 25 to 30 years old and weighed somewhere between 130 and 140 pounds, Warwick said. From there, the department’s best chance to ID the body was DNA.
A sample was taken from the torso and run through a database for potential matches. None were found.
Since the arms, legs and head were missing, police weren’t able to definitively determine the cause of death. But the person was likely killed from a head injury, Warwick said.
Skeletal remains were also found nearby on Oronoque Road two years earlier, but Warwick said police don’t believe the cases are related.
The torso was found about 24 to 48 hours after the man was killed, Warwick said.
Warwick said the man was killed before his torso was dumped. And since the spot where the remains were found was in a secluded part of the city, police say the suspect or suspects must have had knowledge of the area.
“It’s not some place you would just stumble across,” Warwick said.
He said people are known to fish in that area. There is a vacant house on the corner of the street, which comes to a dead end, with a gas company at the end of the road.
“People have been known to dump garbage and drink in the same area,” Warwick said.
Police hoped that since they were unable to to track down the murder victim’s identity through DNA, they might catch a break through the evidence found with the body.
After deciding the comforter was probably from a hotel, police scoured all local hotels and checked to see if any of them used similar comforters to the one found with the torso.
“It was a comforter for a single or double size bed,” Warwick said. “There was no brand name on anything.”
Though police had some leads after investigating the comforter, it didn’t yield any beneficial results. The same was the case for the investigation into the duffel bag.
Without some kind of further information, Warwick said the department is at a standstill on the case.
The evidence found on, with and around the murder victim remains in the Milford Police Department’s evidence room and will stay there until the case is closed.
“The DNA stays in the system and constantly searches for a potential match,” Warwick said.
Anyone with any information on the case or who think they recognize the victim, can call Milford police at 203-878-6551.