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Investigators put a name to bones found off Sligh Avenue in December

TAMPA — Authorities have identified a set of human bones that was found scattered in the woods Dec. 22 near Sligh Avenue and Rowlett Park Drive.

A DNA test last month confirmed the bones were those of 54-year-old Stephen Craig Snipes, according to a report from the Hillsborough County Medical Examiner. Snipes, who lived in an assisted living facility on Nebraska Avenue, had been missing for several months.

A Tampa police investigation into Snipes' death remains open.

A homeless man came across the bones just after noon Dec. 22 and called 911. Tampa police officers arrived and found what appeared to be human leg and arm bones, along with a pelvis, spine, and a human skull, according to the medical examiner's report.

Forensic investigators worked with an anthropology team from the University of South Florida to turn up 103 human bones in all, police said, about half of a full adult skeleton.

In late January, Snipes' mother, Yvonne Parker, called the medical examiner's office to inquire about her missing son, the report said. Certain physical similarities were noted between Snipes and the unidentified skeleton. DNA from the bones was compared with a sample of Snipes' DNA, which was in a national database due to a prior arrest.

In February, the results revealed a match.

Detectives noted a decayed yellow rope on a tree near where the bones were found. But since investigators did not find a full skeleton, the cause of death may never be known.

"Right now, it's undetermined until there is a final ruling from the medical examiner," said Tampa police Detective Eric Houston. "Sometimes without certain bones, they just can't make the determination."

Investigators put a name to bones found off Sligh Avenue in December 03/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 11:57am]
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