Mystery solved: Jail escapee’s remains identified 100 years after death

Joseph Henry Loveless escaped from jail more than 100 years ago, but he didn’t meet his demise at the hands of the law. Instead, Loveless was apparently murdered and buried in a cave in Idaho.

Remains had been discovered in Buffalo Cave in Clark County twice -- once in 1979 and again in 1991.

All that was left behind were bones, but finally, a nonprofit volunteer group called DNA Doe Project linked a name and story to the bones, CNN reported.

Loveless had been arrested at least twice for bootlegging but escaped each time.

His final arrest was when he was accused of killing his wife, but he was able to escape once again by sawing through his jail cell using a saw he had concealed in his shoe.

The sheriff’s office said Loveless killed his wife with an ax.

Loveless, according to the Clark County Sheriff's Office, apparently was killed by someone and dismembered, CNN reported.

Authorities believe Loveless died in 1916 when he was 46.

Eventually, his torso was found by a family looking for arrowheads, wrapped in burlap and buried in a shallow grave, CBS News reported. That discovery was made in 1979. More than a decade later, a mummified hand, an arm and a leg were found in the same caves where the torso had been found, also wrapped in burlap.

Loveless’ head was never found, despite efforts to find additional remains.

Volunteers hit other roadblocks. Loveless used aliases throughout his life. He also had no close living relatives in a national database and didn’t have official records from his life on the run.

Idaho State University anthropology students and staff, as well as the Smithsonian Institution and the FBI, were all called in to try to figure out whose remains were found before DNA Doe Project was allowed to take up the case, CBS News reported.

They found with the help of a forensic genealogist on the team that the remains were probably those of a man who was related to pioneers who were in Utah as part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and they believed the man's grandfather was a polygamist with four wives. That helped broaden the search to hundreds of cousins and other relatives, CBS News reported.

Eventually, they found a grandson of Loveless who was 87 years old and living in California. He met with authorities and gave a DNA sample, which was a 100% grandparent/grandchild match with the remains, CNN reported.

Now that law enforcement knows whose bones were discovered in the cave four decades ago, they still don't know who killed him, so the case will remain open, CBS News reported.

Click here for more on Loveless' life and death investigation.

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