Headless body found in Alabama 26 years ago identified as California man

Posted at 2:34 PM, May 25, 2023 and last updated 1:03 PM, June 14, 2023

MARSHALL COUNTY, Calif. (Scripps News San Luis Obispo) – After 26 years, investigators in Alabama have identified a body that was found without a head, hands and feet as a man from Santa Barbara.

According to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, the body was found on April 15, 1997, in a wooded area near the town of Union Grove.

Yearbook photos and a digital composite of Jefferey Douglas Kimzy

Three high school yearbook photos show Jefferey Douglas Kimzy in the 1990s, as well as a composite profile. (Marshall County Sheriff’s Office)

Because the body had been mutilated, investigators said they were unable to identify the man or even determine an accurate age. They believe the removal of his head, hands and feet was done intentionally to make identification impossible.

Investigators say they followed up on numerous leads but the case eventually went cold.

Recently, however, officials say improvements in DNA and genealogical research allowed them to finally identify the victim.

Sheriff’s officials say they worked with a DNA technology company called Parabon NanoLabs on a process known as DNA phenotyping which uses a subject’s DNA to predict what they may have looked like.

The victim has now been identified as Jefferey Douglas Kimzy, 20, of Santa Barbara.

“We now have an identity and we can backtrack, hopefully, backtrack whereabouts, movement over the course of that time and so forth,” Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office says it has also identified persons of interest in Kimzy’s death and investigators will continue working with Parabon NanoLabs to analyze DNA on items found at the scene.

“What’s unique about this, and I can’t explain why right now, but there was never a missing person report filed on Mr. Kimzey that we are aware of anyway, so which makes it even more difficult to track or identify who this person was,” Sheriff Sims said. “We know who Jefferey Kimzey is now by a photo. We’re trying to figure out who Jefferey Kimzey was as a person.”

Anyone with further information about this case is urged to contact the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office at 256-582-2034.

This story was originally published on May 24, 2023, by KSBY in San Luis Obispo, an E.W. Scripps Company.