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TOOELE — Tooele County Sheriff Paul Wimmer said he's confident the unidentified body of a young man found 39 years ago is that of a missing Colorado resident.
"We strongly suspect it is him," Wimmer said. "It makes sense, and we have no reason to believe it's anybody but him."
But until DNA and dental testing are completed by an out-of-state lab, a process that could take six to eight months, Wimmer wasn't ready to definitively say Friday that it is the body of David Stack.
Stack, of Broomfield, Colorado, was 18 when he was last seen on June 1, 1976. He had set out with the intention of hitchhiking to California, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
"His ultimate destination was possibly his siblings' homes in either Truckee or Berkeley. He never reached either destination, and hasn't been seen or heard from since," the website states.
His ultimate destination was possibly his siblings' homes in either Truckee or Berkeley. He never reached either destination, and hasn't been seen or heard from since.
–National Missing and Unidentified Persons System
Later that same month, the body of a young man was discovered near a landfill outside Wendover. The man had been shot twice, and his death was ruled a homicide.
But investigators were unable to positively identify him. The victim was not carrying any identification, and national databases weren't as good as they are today, Wimmer said.
"If you were killed and you didn't have your ID on you … it was difficult to identify a body," the sheriff said.
The body of "John Doe" was eventually buried in the Tooele City Cemetery.
The case was reopened when a pair of sheriff's detectives went to a cold case conference. With the new information they learned on investigating cases, the case of John Doe was reopened. That included exhuming the man's body this week to collect new DNA and dental samples to be submitted for analysis.
The Tooele County Sheriff's Office has been working with police in Broomfield, Colorado, who have been in contact with Stack's family. The family has already submitted their own DNA samples to be used for the comparison to John Doe.
Contributing: Paul Nelson