After 35 Years, Cops Identify Murder Victim

His belt buckle was the most important clue
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2020 5:50 PM CDT
Belt Buckle Helps Identify Man Murdered 35 Years Ago
Police shared this photo of William Ernest Thompson.   (Escambia County Sheriff's Office)

If it wasn't for his belt buckle, the fate of William Ernest Thompson might have forever remained a mystery. Police in Escambia County, Florida say Thompson was identified as a murder victim after a relative searching for their missing uncle read a cold case listing on their website that noted the "John Doe" victim was wearing a belt "with the hand-engraved initials 'W.T.'" when his body was found on Jan. 23, 1985, reports CNN. Police say that after the relative contacted them and submitted a DNA sample, they were able to confirm Thompson's identity. The relative said Thompson's last known location was Penscola Beach, not far from the area where the body was discovered.

Thompson, who would now be 85, hadn't been heard from since he called his mother on Sept. 23, 1983, the Pensacola News Journal reports. Police believe that he was killed at least eight months before his body was found and possibly longer. Police say they are still searching for the killer. "This is another example of the never-ending quest for justice," Chief Deputy Chip Simmons said in a statement posted on Facebook. "While we haven't yet solved the homicide. It is a step forward and can give the family some closure until the case is solved." (Read more cold cases stories.)

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