Recently elected N.P. County sheriff resumes cold case from 1982

LEWISTON, ID - Thirty-one years ago Wednesday, a body of a young man was found in the river 25 miles south of Lewiston.

Reporter Sophia Miraglio discovers why this cold case is starting to warm up again, and how the recently-elected Nez Perce County Sheriff is bringing a new perspective to the case.

It was 1982, a time when the average house cost $80,000. 'Physical' by Olivia Newton-John topped the charts, and DNA testing was unheard of. It was also the year a Nez Perce County cold case was born.

"Spring run-off is when they located the body and it's where the Grand Ronde comes into the Snake," said Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez.

The man, who is still referred to as a John Doe, was shot twice; once in the left shoulder and once in the neck by a .38-caliber Smith and Wesson.

The river comes down towards us so it must have came from somewhere. The case was idle, provided very little clues, and has been opened and closed multiple times.

"If we have a chance to solve something; solve it, and don't push it on the wayside and believe it was too long ago," said Rodriguez.

Nez Perce County Sheriff Joe Rodriguez hopes to create a task force that will span across the decades.

"You start talking to people that were in law enforcement or the Forest Service that have since retired," said Rodriguez.

Rodriguez was only an investigator at the time the body was exhumed from it's unmarked grave last year.

"We had a grant that we were going to send a piece of the body, which happened to be a femur for a DNA sample," said Rodriguez.

Despite an unknown identification, the descent of the individual is wielding many clues.

"It kind of gives you that it was a foreign person that was here working in the area," said Rodriguez.

Which would make sense on why the case has gone cold for so many years.

"My belief on the reason why we haven't had anyone come forward is that I believe this was a person that wasn't from the United States," said Rodriguez.

The case remains open and unsolved at this time. The Nez Perce County Sheriff's office asks that if anyone has information regarding the identity of this individual or the homicide to please contact them at 208-799-3131.