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Body Of Potential Murder Victim Found In Barrel Due To Lake Mead Drought — Police Say There Are More To Come

Photo: The Ecotone / Shutterstock.com
Lake Mead Penstock Towers on Nevada Border

The Western half of the United States is currently grappling with a climate-change-fueled crisis in the form of a mega-drought that has already affected the lives of millions. 

Lake Mead — the largest manmade reservoir in the country that rests on the border of Nevada and Arizona — has seen its water levels fall to unprecedented lows, causing some grueling discoveries to be made.

Las Vegas police have found a resurfaced barrel with decades-old human remains stuffed inside.

According to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Lieutenant Ray Spencer, someone who was spending time at the lake Sunday afternoon spotted the barrel — seeing the remains since the barrel had corroded to the point where its contents had been exhumed.

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In a release made by Spencer on Tuesday, he revealed that investigators believe the person was likely a murder victim who was killed by a gunshot wound.

An investigation into the murder is now underway, according to the statement, and "detectives believe the victim was killed some time in the mid-'70s to early '80s, based on clothing and footwear the victim was found with."

The investigators are working in tandem with the Clark County Coroner's Office in order to identify the victim before announcing their name to the public.

According to EcoWatch, the reservoir has provided water for over 25 million people over the course of decades in the Arizona, Nevada, and California areas, but those people have started to be affected by the declining water supply.

"The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years," Spencer said previously, adding that "it's likely that we will find additional bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead" as the water level continues to drop as a result of climate change.

"The barrel was likely dropped hundreds of yards off the shore back then," Spencer said, "but that area is now considered the shoreline."

While working on the story of the body that was found inside of the barrel, the 8 News Now I-Team discovered a second barrel along the shore a day later, alerting police.

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The second barrel was several hundred feet away from the first but still surfaced on the new shoreline that was dozens of feet underwater in previous years.

According to the police that the I-Team alerted, the barrel was empty but proves that there are likely many more discoveries to be made because of the dropping sea level.

Just last week, a water intake valve that’s been in service since 1971 has now stopped working since it has surfaced above the water levels.

Local, state, and federal governments have worked on cutting down the demand for water as much as they can in order to preserve the falling water level.

In August of last year, the federal government declared an unprecedented water shortage along the Colorado River, triggering cuts in water consumption for states in the Southwest starting in January.

A Nevada state law that was passed late last year has outlawed “nonfunctional grass” — referred to as “outlaw grass” — since it tends to require many tons of water just for upkeep.

The bodies that are soon-to-be found by authorities in Lake Mead are only a small part of the larger climate change crisis that will soon affect everyone in the world. 

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.