Third long-submerged body surfaces in Lake Mead

For the third time in two months, long-submerged human remains have been discovered in a part of Lake Mead that once sat underwater but, due to a severe drought, is now exposed.

World War II landing craft discovered as Lake Mead reveals its secrets
World War II landing craft discovered as Lake Mead reveals its secrets
The receding waters of Lake Mead have exposed three long-submerged bodies and several sunken boats, including this World War II-era landing craft discovered in June. (Image: CNN)

Responding to an eyewitness report, the National Park Service made the grisly but increasingly expected discovery on July 25, 2022 at Swim Beach, a small recreation area along the Boulder Basin of Lake Mead, according to this press release.

Clark County Coroner Melanie Rouse told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the remains, which were partially submerged in mud in the swimming area along the shore north of Hemenway Harbor, belong to a single person whose gender was not immediately apparent.

The First Body

On May 1, 2022, remains were discovered by boaters inside a corroded metal barrel that was stuck in mud once located 100 feet under Lake Mead’s Hemenway Harbor. Along with the coroner’s office, homicide police are investigating the case of a man they believe to have been murdered by a gunshot to the head sometime from the mid-’70s to early ’80s.

“Obviously, these are all signatures of a mob hit,” Geoff Schumacher of the Mob Museum told, indicating that his best guess as to the victim’s identity was veteran Vegas casino host Harry Pappas, who disappeared on Aug. 18, 1976 after telling his wife he was going to meet someone interested in buying his boat.

Less than a week later, on May 7, 2022, another body was found on a sand bar near Lake Mead’s Callville Bay. Foul play is apparently not suspected in that case, since the coroner’s office is investigating without assistance from homicide police.

More Secrets to Surface

Owing to two decades of severe drought that have slowed snow runoff into the Colorado River, Lake Mead is now at 30 percent of full capacity, its lowest level since it was first filled by the completion of the Hoover Dam in 1935. The largest U.S. reservoir — which provides water to nearly 20 million people in California, Nevada and Arizona, as well as some of Mexico — Lake Mead 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 that warned that visitors “are not permitted to come to the park to independently search for potential human remains.”

“They should do as the most recent park visitor did: call Park Dispatch and provide rangers with their approximate location so we can reach the scene promptly to set a perimeter and begin the investigation,” the park service statement said.

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