Detectives await lab results in Kingston body case

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Photo courtesy of IDAHO STATE POLICE Shoshone County Sheriff Mike Gunderson (left) supervises the recovery effort of the remains by Idaho State Police detectives last year in Kingston.

COEUR d’ALENE — Idaho State Police detectives are still actively investigating the case involving the unidentified human remains discovered in Kingston last year.

ISP captain John Kempf tells the News-Press that very little new information has been released since the body’s discovery in early June 2018 and following an autopsy weeks later.

“Nothing new,” he said of the case. “We have sent several items of evidence to the lab for analysis.”

The initial autopsy results of the remains failed to reveal any details as to the identity of the deceased, cause of death, or even how the remains got to where they were found.

Kempf and ISP detectives are banking on the pending DNA results to give them some new insights — even if they don’t come back with a positive ID.

“So far we are not able to positively identify the remains,” Kempf said. “Once we get the results back — which may only be the DNA profile, it may not give us a match — at least it will give us something so that we can test some family members or do some things to hopefully (in the foreseeable future) identify who that person was, because that’s going to at least point us in the right direction as to how they ended up in that drainage.”

Detectives have been fighting an uphill battle since the discovery, due to the degraded condition of the remains and a lack of evidence found at the scene.

“The most obvious (challenge) is the condition the body was found it in,” Kempf said. “It was subjected to probably not only rain, but ice and snow and runoff, and all the things that would come with a body being exposed to the elements for any length of time.”

The remains were discovered on the morning of June 7, 2018, by DG&S Construction crews, who were working on the Interstate 90 bridge project in Kingston. The discovery was made in a swampy area off Coeur d’Alene River Road adjacent to the I-90 westbound off-ramp.

Officials with the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office and Idaho State Police worked for 24 hours to recover the remains.

“We had to drain essentially a swamp, dam it up and slowly but surely dig around this thing to try and do the best we can to bring it out as a whole piece,” Kempf said in a previous interview.

Not only was it difficult to get information from the weathered remains, but it also did not help that almost no items or hard evidence were found along with them. The only items that were found were the remnants of clothing.

Based partially on the clothing, ISP has a working theory on the gender of the deceased, but is not ready to draw any concrete conclusions.

One of the few bits of information that detectives are confident with releasing is that the remains are not believed to be those of Brian Shookman. Shookman, a Montana native, is the only missing person cold case still active in Shoshone County. He was last seen leaving a friend’s house in Kellogg on July 28, 2012, and was supposed to be going to his aunt’s house in Osburn later that day; but never arrived and was never heard from since.

While the investigation has gone quite for awhile, Kempf assures the News-Press that the case is still active and is being treated as an “unattended death” — as there is no evidence at the moment to suggest foul play.

“We’re still fielding tips and working with the sheriff’s office,” he said. “It could have been somebody that just fell down there, could have had a medical issue; we don’t know.

ISP does not have an expected date of when the lab results will be back, but they are hoping that it will be soon,

“When we identify who the person is, that will certainly help us establish a time line.”

If you or someone you know has any information regarding this case, please contact the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office at 208-556-1114 and ask for Detective Jeff Lee.

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