Benton County Detective Solves Mystery Of Leg That Washed Up At Beaver Lake

BENTON COUNTY (KFSM) -- The Benton County Sheriff’s Office was recently able to solve the case of a leg found in Beaver Lake back in 2001 and link it to a man who drowned in the late 80’s.

In 2001, a leg washed up on shore at Indian Creek at Beaver Lake. Detectives took possession of the remains and had no leads. Sergeant Hunter Petray said the remains were put into the National Missing and Unidentified Remains database, but there were no leads and the case remained cold.

“Back in 2016, a year ago, I decided to look at it a little bit closer. I wanted to explore the possibility that the victim could have been a drowning victim whose body was not recovered," Petray said.

Petray said after getting old drowning reports from the Army Corps of Engineers they found Steve Peterson’s name. Peterson drowned in October of 1989 in the same area of Beaver Lake where the remains washed up.

On a hunch, Petray called who he thought might be Peterson’s family in Kansas and it turned out to be his sister.

“Before I even told her what I was inquiring about she said, have you found my brother? And I said I don’t know yet, hopefully but I need your help. So she along with her mother, 93-year-old mother came down, they gave DNA samples," he said.

Petray said the DNA samples were sent to the University of North Texas and after more than six months they were able to positively match the victim’s DNA to his sister and mother.

He said he’s glad to have closed the case and he hopes it gives Peterson’s family some closure.

“They kind of had mixed opinions, mixed feelings because it wasn’t the full remains. You are talking about a leg so they were a little conflicted with that but they were appreciative and they wanted to know was it him or was it somebody else, he said.

Petray said the sheriff’s office has 10 to 15 cold cases opened at this time.