Dental records reveal identity of body found at Harvard conservation area

  • Darrell P. Splett

    Darrell P. Splett Courtesy Shaw Media

Updated 10/26/2020 12:03 PM

A body found in May 2019 at Rush Creek Conservation Area has been identified as a 50-year-old Ingleside man, officials said.

After an 18-month investigation, the McHenry County coroner's office identified the man as Darrell P. Splett, according to a news release.


Police do not suspect foul play, and the investigation is considered closed, McHenry County Sheriff's Deputy Tim Creighton said.

Reached by phone Friday, Splett's family said the man will be cremated, and no public funeral arrangements are expected.

The McHenry County Conservation District Police Department and the coroner's office were called May 5, 2019, to investigate the death of a man whose body was found at the Rush Creek Conservation Area in Harvard. The body's advanced decomposition hindered investigators' attempts to identify the man, who never was reported missing, according to the release.

Together, the coroner's office, sheriff's office, MCCD police, University of Illinois at Chicago and Dr. Michael Colvard worked to identify the man, according to the release. Their methods included attempts to obtain partial fingerprints and full-body X-rays to identify any surgically implanted devices that might contain serial numbers.

Investigators also searched a variety of private, federal, state and local databases but did not find a match to their John Doe, according to the release.

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In January, the coroner's office coordinated with the Palm Beach County sheriff's office in Florida to create a digital facial reconstruction of what the man might have looked like before his death, according to the release.

That image was sent to law enforcement and news outlets throughout Illinois and Wisconsin in April and yielded more than 60 potential leads, according to the release. None of those leads was determined to be a match.

The investigation took a turn in late June, however, when the coroner's office collaborated with Orthram Inc. to identify the man's possible relatives. DNA from one of Splett's siblings was tested, and the family member was interviewed this month, according to the release.

Additional interviews revealed Splett was scheduled to undergo dental work at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Dentistry in late 2018 or 2019. In light of that new information, investigators requested and obtained dental records from the university. Those records ultimately revealed the man's identity, according to the release.

Splett's body will be returned to his family, who has asked for privacy.

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