John Doe

Case# 92-0601

Artist's conception of what the

victim may have looked like




March 12, 1992


Sand Canyon area of Wellington, Nevada

It was an anonymous telephone call placed to law enforcement on March 12, 1992, that led to this nearly three-decades-long murder mystery.


The caller reported there was a dead body in the Sand Canyon (Wellington) area of Lyon County, and when authorities arrived on scene they discovered the skeletal remains of a male victim. Known only as the Sand Canyon John Doe, he remains unidentified to this day.

The Lyon County Sheriff's Office, along with the Nevada Division of Investigations (NDI), have worked this case off and on throughout the years, but this murder remains unsolved.

Very little is known about the Sand Canyon John Doe other than he was Caucasian with reddish brown hair and stood between six-foot and six-foot-two in height. He was missing eight teeth and had a root canal. His age at the time of death is estimated to be between 35 and 50 years old. This means he would currently be in his early 60s to late 70s had he lived. 

A dog was seen (and photographed) in the area where the body was found, in addition to the discovery of a broken dog collar. It is theorized that this dog possibly belonged to the victim.


Although not wearing shoes at the time of his discovery, a pair of black Stadia brand shoes were located within close proximity

Actual photograph of the

dog that may have

belonged to the victim

Fragment of victim's

shirt containing pattern

The decedent's shirt was in tattered condition but a partial logo or design was observed that could aid in recognition by family or friends of the Sand Canyon John Doe, leading to the discovery of his identity. 


In 2015, the LCSO Detective Division, working with NDI, released a picture of the shirt fragment to the public in the hopes that someone would recognize the pattern which would ultimately lead to identifying the victim.

This partially paid off.


Shortly after its release, someone from the Websleuths website found the pattern and it was discovered to be that of a hawk in the foreground with the sun in the background. This helped identify the shirt the victim was wearing at the time of his death, but unfortunately, this has not resulted in any further leads in the case, even after it was featured on local media outlet, KTVN 2

Isotope analysis performed in 2015 on the hair samples of John Doe suggests he was from--or had spent time (up to three months before his death)--in western North Dakota, western South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, east California, or Nevada (or a combination thereof).

What the reconstructed shirt may have looked like that John Doe was wearing at the time of his death  

Since John Doe may have visited or resided in one or more of these states shortly before his death, this makes the discovery of his identity that much more difficult due to investigators currently being unable to connect the discovery of his body with that of a missing person case from one of the aforementioned Western states.

And while some critics may refer to this isotope analysis as Voodoo, investigators strongly believe such science (and others like it) may one day bring them closer to identifying this victim. 

DNA for the victim is on file, and although this case is featured on such websites as The Doe Network, Reddit, NAMUS, Web Sleuths, and NDI, the victim remains unidentified and the case remains unsolved.

If you have any information about this case, know someone who does, or know of a missing person case from another state that matches the Sand Canyon John Doe, we urge you to contact the Lyon County Sheriff's Office Detective Division at (775) 577-5206 or the Lyon County Sheriff's Office 24-hour dispatch center at (775) 577-5023.


To provide information anonymously, call Secret Witness at (775) 322-4900. 

Return to the Cold Case main page here.


Emergency: 911

Non-Emergency: (775) 577-5023

Sheriff's Office: (775) 463-6600

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Lyon County Sheriff's Office

911 Harvey Way #1

Yerington, NV 89447

(775) 463-6600