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Human remains from Lake Mead finally identified, man had been missing since 1998

By Christopher Kirkman
|
April 29, 2023

The remains of a body found in Lake Mead have finally been identified as a man who went missing during a fishing trip in 1998.

The nearly 25-year mystery came to an end in the unresolved case of Claude Pensinger, whose body was found last summer after Lake Mead was hit by a drought.

The details

"Claude Russell Pensinger, 52 at the time of his death in 1998, joined an eerie list of remains that were found in the West Coast lake after new sections were exposed by historically low water levels," the Daily Mail reported.

"Pensinger's bones were found over a three-week span last July and August, however his cause of death could not be determined by a coroner," it added.

One of several bodies

"His remains were just one of several sets discovered at Lake Mead as its water levels drop due to prolonged drought," NPR reported.

"Last May, boaters discovered a male body with a gunshot wound inside a barrel, which authorities are still investigating as a homicide," it added.

The report also noted the finding of "Thomas Erndt, 42, whose drowning was reported on Aug. 2, 2002." Another set of remains was found to "belong to Donald P. Smith, a 39-year-old North Las Vegas man who died in April 1974."

Mystery remains

"Pensinger’s brother said the pair were fishing together on the lake that day, in separate boats, when Pensinger failed to show up at a meeting point later," 8NewsNow reported.

"His brother reportedly described him as a good swimmer and a navy and coast guard veteran," it added.

The remains of Pensinger's body were found on three different occasions, with the coroner determining that they belonged to the same person.

"The identification was based on DNA analysis," the coroner said.

"The cause and manner of Mr. Pensinger’s death is undetermined," he added.

The drought has at least brought some resolution to the case of Pensinger and some other finds from the lake. One remaining case still remains unresolved, with investigators hoping for a breakthrough after additional study.