Body found in Alabama identified 26 years later as California man

High school year book photos of Jefferey Douglas Kimzey compared to a composite sketch (Credit: Marshall County Alabama Sheriff's Office via Facebook)

A body found in the woods in Alabama 26 years ago was finally identified on Wednesday as a 20-year-old California resident, officials said.

Investigators with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office and the State Bureau of Investigation announced in a post on Facebook that the body is that of Jefferey Douglas Kimzey, of Santa Barbara, California.

Kimzey’s decomposing body was found in the woods along Little Cotaco Creek in the town of Union Grove on April 15, 1997. His head, hands and feet had been removed, so it was hard to give an accurate age or description, investigators said.

An autopsy found the manner of death was a homicide and that the removal of the body parts was done intentionally to make identification harder, the sheriff’s office said.

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Eventually the case went cold. In 2019, samples were sent to Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company that used a process known as DNA phenotyping, which uses a subject’s DNA to predict what they may have looked like. The company released a composite image of the victim in 2021, and investigators hoped the sketch would be able to generate new leads, which it did.

Sheriff Phil Sims thanked all the investigators who have been involved in the case.

"I know they would like to see this case solved, but having a positive identification will help us get closer to solving this case," Sims said. "Today, we want to announce we do have persons of interest involved in this case and are actively pursuing those leads. Also, we will be working with Parabon on DNA that we have recently become aware related to items found at the scene."