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UNIDENTIFIED

Few clues in unknown homeless man’s death

Posted on May 31, 2021

Local news
A forensic rendering depicts an unidentified homeless man found dead behind a Raleigh Walmart store in 2015.

Contributed photo

A forensic rendering depicts an unidentified homeless man found dead behind a Raleigh Walmart store in 2015.

Unidentified is a weekly series examining the more than 120 cases of unidentified human remains discovered in North Carolina. Reporter Lindell J. Kay produces each installment for The Enterprise of Spring Hope and other Restoration NewsMedia newspapers.

Click the hyperlinked text below to read previous installments:

 Dozens of bodies found across NC remain mysteries

 'Baby John Nash' killing remains unsolved

 Drowning victim remains unknown

 Man who stepped in front of train still unknown 

 Body dumped on interstate remains mystery 

 Few clues found in skeleton case 

 Tattoo may hold key clue in unsolved homicide 

Unknown woman stabbed to death 

lkay@springhopeenterprise.com | 252-265-8117

RALEIGH — Skeletal remains remain unidentified five years after being found in a homeless encampment in a patch of woods in the heart of one of the city’s busiest commercial areas.

Police discovered the skeleton of a white homeless man May 19, 2015, in the woods behind 3411 W. Millbrook Road, which is a kidney care center.

A short walk through those woods is the Walmart at 6600 Glenwood Ave. Dumpsters behind big-box stores are popular food sources for the homeless.

Whether washed ashore, unearthed in shallow graves, stumbled upon in the woods, discovered in abandoned houses, killed on busy roads or located in rivers, ponds and along railroad tracks, more than 100 bodies remain unidentified in North Carolina. This is one of their stories.

City police told reporters at the time that they couldn’t find any apparent signs of foul play and the homeless man isn’t believed to be a victim of a crime. He probably died in 2014 or 2015.

Lisa Williams lost her brother to violence at a homeless camp behind a Kmart on Piney Green Road in Jacksonville a decade ago. She told this reporter a couple of years ago that her brother, Michael Kozak, chose to live outdoors and even when provided a place to stay, he would always return to the woods.

Right now, Wake County has at least 30 homeless encampments, according to Triangle Family Services, which provides food, clothing and other basics to homeless people.

City Councilman David Cox has addressed the growing number of homeless people in the Raleigh area, according to a March 22 article in the News & Observer.

“I really think in an affluent city such as ourselves, it is really unconscionable that we have people who have to live without shelter. And I really hope we do something in the very near future,” Cox said during a recent city council meeting.

A year after the skeleton’s 2015 discovery in Raleigh, a forensic artist from South Carolina created a sculpture based on the recovered skull.

Authorities have circulated photos of the sculpture, resulting in two missing men from Tennessee being ruled out: David Riemens, born in 1952, and Dusten Toschlog, born in 1976.

The homeless man is estimated to be between 50 and 70 years old. He stood an estimated 5 feet, 11 inches tall. The homeless man’s weight couldn’t be determined from his skeletal remains. He had brown hair; his eye color remains unknown.

When he died, the homeless man wore zipped and buttoned denim pants size 32, blue and white plaid Hanes brand boxer shorts, black socks and a slip-on, suede-like shoe on his left foot. The right shoe lay next to his skeleton.

In the right front pocket of the homeless man’s pants, investigators found a key ring with a key marked “GM.”

DNA and dental records are available. The man’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System number is 13931.

Anyone with information about the man is asked to call the Raleigh Police Department’s tip line at 919-834-4357 or Team Cold Case at 252-406-6736. A monetary reward is available.

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