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Vegas Officials Release Facial Approximation for Body Found in Lake Mead Barrel

Posted on: December 1, 2023, 10:42h. 

Last updated on: December 1, 2023, 10:54h.

The infamous Lake Mead “body in a barrel” now has a face. And Clark County and Las Vegas police hope that this will finally lead to a name. The face was created by the FBI using facial approximation software at its lab in Quantico, Va., according to a Clark County press release.

This face was created by the FBI based on skeletal remains recovered by Clark County coroner’s office investigators from a barrel in Lake Mead in May 2022. (Clark County)
The infamous “body in a barrel” was discovered by boaters in May 2022 at Hemenway Harbor, about 30 miles away from Las Vegas. (Image: Shawna Elizabeth Hollister)

National Park Service officials retrieved the body, discovered by boaters near Hemenway Harbor, in May 2022. Police believe the victim was murdered by a gunshot wound to the head, then stuffed into the barrel, which was then taken several hundred yards out into Lake Mead by boat and dumped.

Judging from the clothes still clinging to the body, police date the murder to sometime between the late ’70s and early ’80s. This places it squarely within the vicious reign of mob boss Anthony Spilotro. Tony the Ant, as he was known, was the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film, “Casino.” He was murdered in 1986.

All Other Remains IDed

The body in a barrel is the only one of four Lake Mead remains cases not yet identified by the coroner’s office.

Remains found on July 25, 2022, were identified in April 2023 as those of Las Vegas resident Claude Pensinger, 52, who went missing on July 14, 1998.

Remains found on Oct. 17, 2022, belonged to Donald P. Smith, 39, of North Las Vegas, a drowning victim missing since April 1974.

Remains discovered at Lake Mead on May 7, 2022, belonged to Thomas Erndt,  a 42-year-old Las Vegas resident who drowned.

Anyone who recognizes the face in the newly generated images is asked to email the Clark County Coroner’s Office at The case number is 2022-02725.

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