The decomposed remains of a man were found in Des Moines in February of 1984 and the medical examiner at the time concluded the man had been murdered. Despite what Des Moines Police describe as “distinctive clothing…and multiple tattoos,” authorities were unable to identify the man. Investigators were able to capture the man’s thumbprint.
In 2014, the FBI’s fingerprint database was upgraded. In February of this year, the agency began reviewing hundreds of prints from cold cases like this one. On June 1, the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office was notified that the FBI had identified the man found dead in Des Moines 33 years ago. Relatives of John Clifton Downey were quickly tracked down in another state and they verified some information. Downey was 39 years old when he died.
Des Moines Police say their investigation of this 1984 homicide continues.