Fingerprints Help Identify Massachusetts Man Who Drowned in Florida Waters Nearly 20 Years Ago

Missing person Found
Facebook / Collier County Sheriff's Office

A collaboration between local police, FBI, and National Missing and Unidentified Persons System helped find the military vet.

A nearly 20-year-old mystery has finally been answered as authorities in Florida have been able to identify a man who drowned in the Gulf of Mexico in 2002 through his fingerprints, Naples Daily News reported.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office announced Monday they have identified the man as Edward Lorenz Richard of Spencer, Mass. He was 49.

Richard was found floating near the shore on May 3, 2002, and since then detectives have worked to try and find out his identity.

Richard’s body had no forms of identification when it was discovered, the cause of death was not determined, and fingerprints, DNA, dental information and other databases turned up no leads, Mass Live reported.

Authorities also said that the case was added to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) website detailing ongoing missing and unidentified persons investigations.

Then, after 19 years, on Nov. 23, 2021, authorities said a positive match was made between the fingerprints they uploaded to NamUs and Richard’s Armed Forces fingerprint card, which had been prepared Nov. 15, 1972, when he enlisted.

Authorities said that through a collaboration between various divisions of the FBI, and unidentified persons record prints retained in the NamUs data base, they were able to find out Richard's identity.

Detectives were able to locate Richard’s brother and son in Massachusetts the following day, cops said.

“Family members said Richard left Massachusetts by bus and headed to Florida about 20 years before his 2002 death. At the time of his departure, Richard had given all of his identification cards to family and they had not heard from him since,” cops said in a statement they posted on Facebook.

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