MARANA- Marana police detectives have identified a John Doe killed in 1995 and now the case is heating up.
Detectives say the man was identified as 72-year-old John Nortonson from California. However, how he ended up in Marana and who killed him, remains a mystery.
“In June of 1995, we responded to a body being found near the interstate and Camino de Manana,” said Marana Police Sgt. Chris Warren.
The Nortonson's body was found after two public works employees in the area smelled a foul odor and found the remains. The body was badly decomposed and there was no identification.
Nortonson became known as John Doe #39.
They found his watch, a receipt from the post office, and more questions than answers.
Fast forward to 2009 when Tom Mooney, who heads the Crime Scene Unit, began looking at cold cases.
A report indicated there was a name on John Doe's dentures. Mooney asked his dentist about it and if there was a manufacturer by that name.
“He told me that it was not the manufacturer...it was common practice to put the person's name on the denture.”
Now, with a last name, Marana police looked at missing persons reports around the country and came across Nortonson.
"The victim had been reporting as a missing person from Atwater Police Department In California back in 1994,” said Sgt. Warren.
They compared fingerprints lifted from John Doe #39 to the fingerprints on file in California. It was a match.
Detectives learned “[Nortonson] was a truck driver for a living and he had a previous criminal record.” He served time for murder in California.
Mooney had the dubious task of letting the family know what had happened to their loved one fifteen years later. He said the family was shocked.
Nortonson’s wife had passed away, but even as tragic as the news was, his family had some closure. They also knew the Marana Police Department is working for them.
“I feel good that our department is able to at least solve some aspect of the case,” Mooney said.
However, Marana police still need your help.
They're asking anyone with information, no matter how small a detail, to call them.
“Because it might be that small little detail that actually helps breaks the case where we can end up solving it, making an arrest and bringing whoever did this to justice,” said Sgt. Warren.
Call 911, or if you want to remain anonymous call 88-CRIME, if you have any information on the case.