Bones Found Identified As Man Who Went Missing In '96

By: Leslie Fichera/Lauri Martin Email
By: Leslie Fichera/Lauri Martin Email

Colorado Springs police say they've identified the remains found in early 2009 in Colorado Springs.

The question remains: how did Thomas "Richard" Saulsbury die?

The 49-year-old went missing back in July of 1996. His remains were discovered last March by workers cleaning a storm water drain near North Cheyenne Park, which is about a mile and a half away from his house. It's taken nearly a year to identify who they belonged to because investigators didn’t have anything to compare the DNA they got from the bones. There is no database of missing persons cases where DNA is stored.

Nearly a year later after the bones were discovered, with the help of technology, 3-D facial reconstruction was created from the skull. “Your facial morphology is based on the skull underneath. Really, it’s just the tissue is just sitting on top," says Dr. Leon Kelly, a forensic pathologist at the El Paso County Coroner's office. He is working on the case and asked a forensic artist for his help.

“The place it's more difficult (to reconstruct) is where you don't have a bone, which are the ears and the nose. It's cartilage and it goes away once the person dies, so those you have to guess when you’re making the face how big is the nose, how far it sticks out and how big the ears are."

The reconstruction was so good that a homicide detective recognized it from an unsolved missing persons case and knew it was Thomas Richard Saulsbury.

“His wife had his old shaving kit. So we got ante-mortem DNA and we took a tooth and compared it," says Dr. Kelly.

What hasn’t been determined though is how Saulsbury died. “At this point, we investigate like it was a homicide. That's what we do in these cases, but at this stage, we can't say that it's a killing, a suicide or what exactly happened," says Springs Police Lt. David Whitlock.

Detectives will try to figure out how Saulsbury died.

We stopped by the family's house today, but they didn't want to talk on camera.

If you have any information about this death, call Crime Stoppers at 634-STOP.

Click here to view the "bust" photos.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ann Location: Nebraska on Feb 12, 2010 at 08:41 PM
    We will forever miss and love you Uncle Rich! J&A Saulsbury
  • by Friend Location: Colorado Springs on Feb 11, 2010 at 09:34 PM
    Amazing what technology can do to help solve a cold case - who would have thought that after all these years that his remains would be found so close to his home. Hopefully there can be some finalization on closer that the family has already come to.
  • by Neighbor Location: Colorado Springs on Feb 11, 2010 at 06:40 PM
    Glad this step is resolved, but hopefully they can go on to solve the rest of the case. Also, wonder if any effort is being made to solve the 25 year old Valentine's Murder cold case in the same neighborhood. Creepy that these killers may still be among us...
  • by Citizen K on Feb 10, 2010 at 10:10 AM
    Wow, what an amazing thing technology is. Hopefully this gives his family some sense of closure; if they haven't reached that already.
  • by taxpayer on Feb 10, 2010 at 09:44 AM
    Detective Derek Graham should get a raise for being so astute. Good to see people are on the ball. Kudos.
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