Bones discovered in January 2016 at Grand Lake State Park were identified as a 22-year-old man from Kentucky who had recently moved to Columbus.
It took forensic analysis, DNA and detective work to identify Ryan R. Zimmerman as the man whose partial remains were found by someone walking their dog in the area of U.S. 127 near Coldwater Creek in Mercer County, Sheriff Jeff Grey announced in a Tuesday news release.
Zimmerman was reported missing Nov. 17, 2015, in the Columbus area after his father received an impound notice about the car Zimmerman had been driving.
RELATED: Bones discovered in Mercer County
Zimmerman moved from Corbin, Kentucky, to Columbus in August 2015 to meet some friends he met through the internet. The last time his parents spoke to him was Sept. 27, 2015, Grey stated.
Investigators said Zimmerman is the victim of a homicide, and that his “body was clearly dismembered.”
The head was cut off at the spinal column, and his skull is missing. Also, his bones from the knees and elbows down are missing, and there are saw marks.
“For the last 3½ years, the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office has not forgotten this case and have continued to try to solve it,” Grey stated. “This victim is someone’s son and someone’s brother so it was important to not forget it.”
An Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation analyst who in January noticed the similarity in age, height and time frame of the Mercer County victim and a man who went missing from Columbus is what led to Zimmerman’s identification.
When Columbus police reached out to Zimmerman’s parents for DNA samples, the BCI was able to identify the victim as their son, Grey’s release stated.
Now that the victim is identified, Grey said it is time to solve the case. “I hope everyone will help us so we can bring closure for the parents and we can bring Ryan’s killer to justice.”
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact Mercer County Sheriff’s detectives at 419-586-1450 or the anonymous tip line at 567-890-TIPS(8477).
Thank you for reading the Journal-News and for supporting local journalism. Subscribers: log in for access to your daily ePaper and premium newsletters.
Thank you for supporting in-depth local journalism with your subscription to the Journal-News. Get more news when you want it with email newsletters just for subscribers. Sign up here.