A drought-starved lake near Las Vegas led to the discovery of human remains found Sunday inside a barrel with a victim believed to have been killed decades ago, authorities said.
The barrel was found along the shore at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Boaters initially found the container and reported it to authorities, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said.
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The barrel was exposed at the bottom of the lake amid a drought. Police believe the victim is a man who was shot and killed sometime between the mid-1970s and the early 1980s.
“We believe this is a homicide as a result of a gunshot wound,” Las Vegas homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said in a statement.
Investigators cited the clothing and shoes the victim was wearing, which were manufactured during that period, Spencer said, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The Clark County coroner’s office will try to determine the man’s identity.
Drought has dropped the water level of Lake Mead on the Colorado River in southern Nevada and northern Arizona so much that Las Vegas’ uppermost water intake became visible last week.
Lake Mead and Lake Powell upstream are the largest human-made reservoirs in the U.S., part of a system that provides water to more than 40 million people, tribes, agriculture and industry in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and across the southern border in Mexico.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.