Three years ago, a man's body was found carved to pieces and strewn in woods along U.S. 301 near Riverview. But with the head and hands missing, authorities couldn't identify him.
A box of body parts sat in the Hillsborough medical examiner's freezer for years.
It was a crime so grizzly, it left even veteran law enforcement officials uneasy.
"We have the pictures taken from Hillsborough County, and it's just a gruesome, gruesome sight, just body parts all over the place," said Dave Bristow, spokesman for the Manatee County sheriff's office.
On Wednesday, officials announced they had determined the victim's identity. He was Bradenton resident Todd Borror, reported missing by his mother in July 1995, four months after the body parts were discovered, Bristow said.
After a recent tip that Borror, then 30, was murdered and dumped in Hillsborough, Manatee officials said they identified him by comparing the toe print on Borror's birth certificate to that of the dismembered body.
"It's a rather unique way to identify someone," Bristow said.
But the unusual sleuthing is only part of a very strange story, Bristow said. "This is part of the most bizarre set of crimes we've ever had in the county," he said.
The man Manatee officials say is responsible for Borror's death is Thomas Harrison, accused last year of setting his 25-foot boat on fire and staging his death to collect insurance.
Harrison was arrested in January while driving in Sumter County and was charged with arson and burning to defraud.
He was then extradited to North Carolina, where he is facing charges that in August 1995 he bludgeoned to death Wendy Kratzert, a woman who lived across the street from him.
Harrison, 54, hasn't been charged with Borror's death.
"We certainly feel we have enough to charge him, but since he's safely tucked away for another homicide, we're going to continue to build our case," Bristow said. "There's really no reason to rush."
A few weeks before Borror's disappearance, Bristow said, Harrison hired him to do maintenance work at his residence in east Bradenton.
Bristow said Harrison suspected Borror was involved in burglaries at his home. He said the tip that led to identifying Borror's remains came from a man living in north Florida who told Manatee detectives he was at the house when the murder occurred.
After Harrison was arrested in January on the arson charges, investigators searched the canal behind his home for clues to Borror's whereabouts, but "didn't come up with a whole heck of a lot," Bristow said.
Even now, important evidence is missing in the case, Bristow said.
"We don't have the head yet or the hands," Bristow said. Officials think Borror's head holds the key as to the cause of death.
In the 1995 death of Kratzert, Harrison is accused of being hired as a hit man by Kratzert's husband, Ed, who is also facing first-degree murder charges, along with Harrison's wife, Luann.
Wendy Kratzert was vacationing at the couple's North Carolina summer home when her van was found at the bottom of a nearby cliff. Officials discovered she had been struck in the back of the head before the vehicle took its plunge. The scene was rigged to look like an accident, officials said.
_ Information from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune was used in this report.