SOLVED: Skeleton in a box

In 1986, a long-time resident of Thermopolis, Wyoming moved away.  He left some of his belongings in a shed, including an old, locked trunk.  He left the shed with a friend, Newell Sessions.  Then, six years passed.  Finally, Newell couldn’t stand the suspense another minute and opened the trunk.

Inside was a human skeleton with a bullet lodged in the skull. In March of 1992 the skeleton was turned over to the Wyoming State Crime Lab in Cheyenne, where a facial reconstruction was made. Tips came in, but the skeleton’s identity remained a mystery until 2017.

Thanks to advancements in DNA, the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office has finally made a positive identification. According to the Sheriff’s Office:

“On 10-19-17 a DNA sample was obtained from an adult female from Iowa who had relayed that her father had been shot in the head by her uncle some time in 1960 and then was placed in a trunk prior to being burried in Iowa. It was then stated that the uncle then dug the trunk back up and transported it to Wyoming where the uncle was working. The uncle then left the trunk behind. The uncle then moved to Mississippi where he later committed suicide. The Wyoming State Crime Lab was able to determine that the female who had submitted the DNA sample was indeed a 99.99% match to the bones that had been collected. The bones have now been identified as being Joseph Mulvaney who was born in 1923. Joseph will now be able to get a proper burial and the Mulvaney family can rest easy knowing that their family member has been found.”

Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season five with Robert Stack and in season five with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.


  1. Raul S. Alvarez

    This has been my #1 show I take it with delight detective mysteries. And I do miss Robert Stack he was great on unsolved mysteries and Elliot Ness but also Dennis Farina is also a favorite actor of mine glad to see him take over on unsolved Mysteries.


  2. Bill Blaski

    I remember this case and thinking who could it be. Glad they found out who it was.