Thurston County detectives have recently identified a cold case homicide victim from 1998 as Richard D. McCullom, a missing Pierce County man.
McCullom's body was found in March 1998, on Sheldon Road south of Tumwater. The coroner's office determined the cause of death as a homicide. Until Thursday, the cause of death had not been released due to "investigative need," according to a release from the sheriff's office.
McCullom was 32 when he was killed.
Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Elwin said McCullom was recently identified through "good, old-fashioned detective work" by investigators who are systematically reviewing cold cases.
"It was a John Doe up to this point," Elwin said.
Back in 1998, investigators had fingerprints for the unidentified body, but at that time, McCullom's fingerprints had not been entered into a nationwide database, Elwin explained.
As of 2006, however, the military had entered McCullom's fingerprints into the database. When the fingerprints of the unidentified body were recently resubmitted by Thurston County investigators, they were matched with McCullom's prints in the nationwide database, Elwin said.
No one ever reported McCullom as missing, Elwin said. When the body was found on a dirt road, there was no wallet or identification left behind, Elwin said.
Elwin said McCullom was killed shortly before the body was found.
"He has an ex-wife and kids, but they went through a divorce," Elwin said. "He's got family in Indiana and they were estranged to a certain degree."
Anyone with information about McCullom's death is encouraged to call Thurston County Sheriff's Detective Ben Elkins at 360-786-5279 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.