A possible new lead has surfaced in the case of the human remains found inside a barrel at Lake Mead this spring.
A woman named Barbara Brock has told KVVU-TV/Las Vegas that she believes it’s her brother, Robert Eugene Shaw. Brock last saw him driving to Las Vegas from Fontana, Calif. on May 14, 1977. The description of the body, the age at death — Shaw was 38 — and the time frame of death all match the facts of the case.
“When they found the first body in the barrel, I just knew it was him,” Brock told the station. “I still feel it is him.”
According to the report, Las Vegas police appear to share Brock’s gut feeling. They already requested and received DNA samples from her and her nephew in May and are testing them. The results could take up to a year to process.
Brock said that having the body identified as her brother would bring great relief to her family.
“Of course, all these years, we have wondered where he is at, if he is alive or dead,” she said. “It has been devastating, because if I see someone that looks like him, you’ve got to look and make sure it is not him.”
Whoever the victim was, police believe he was a man murdered by a gunshot to the head, stuffed into the barrel and then dumped into the lake between the mid-’70s and early ’80s — judging from the style of clothing still adhering to the body.
Yes, Brock confirmed to the station, her brother was involved in the criminal underworld. A strangely understated sentence in the KVVU-TV story noted that this “may have had some connection to his disappearance.”
In 1977, gaming on the Las Vegas Strip was still infiltrated by characters such as Anthony “Tony the Ant” Spilotro, the inspiration for Joe Pesci’s character in the 1995 Martin Scorsese film, Casino.
The body in a barrel made international headlines after a boater spotted it on May 1, 2022 in a muddy spot once located 100 feet under Lake Mead’s Hemenway Harbor. Since then, three other bodies have been discovered in Lake Mead, none of which are considered suspicious deaths.
The bodies are all suddenly appearing because a two decades-long drought is causing Lake Mead’s waters to recede dramatically. The largest reservoir in the US is now at 30% of full capacity. This is its lowest level since it was first filled by the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1935. Two decades of slowed snow runoff into the Colorado River has been cited as a major contributory factor.
Lake Mead provides water to nearly 20 million people in California, Nevada, Arizona, and some of Mexico. The lake was last considered full in 2000, when its water level was 1,214 feet. It has fallen 174 feet since then, leaving an eerie white bathtub ring of calcium and other minerals formerly dissolved in the water along its walls.
“As water levels recede and fluctuate, it is possible that artifacts that we do and don’t know about may emerge; including human remains from previous missing person reports,” the park service wrote in a statement.
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