Headless and dismembered body found in 1997 identified 26 years later, Alabama cops say

Walking through a wooded area along an Alabama creek in April 1997, a family with their dogs stumbled upon something gruesome.

They found the body of a young man — with no head, hands or feet.

Deputies with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office responded and saw the body had been mutilated, according to a May 24 news release.

“There was an incision in the chest, and some internal organs were missing and/or damaged,” Chief Deputy Willie Orr told McClatchy News in an email. “Based on the location of the incision, we do believe that this was done to destroy forensic evidence.”

In the days, weeks and years following the discovery of the body, deputies and state investigators worked to identify the man, but after countless dead ends, the case went cold. The case’s information was entered into the FBI’s Violent Criminal Apprehension Program database and investigators moved on.

Now, after 26 years of technological advances in DNA and genealogical research, the unidentified victim has a name, and the case is open again.

In November 2019, Chief Investigator Keith Wilson reached out to Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA technology company based in Reston, Virginia, that specializes in developing nanopharmaceuticals and DNA phenotyping that can be used by law enforcement.

They agreed to help, and a month later Wilson was sending DNA samples from the body away to the lab.

A year later, a phenotypic report was provided by Parabon that provided physical traits of the body.

Based on the phenotypic profile, the man was likely between 20 and 28 years old, had a light complexion, blue eyes, brownish blond hair and freckles, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office announced in a 2021 press conference, AL.com reported.

A composite image was created showing what the man may have looked like, and while it brought in a few leads at the time, nothing panned out, and investigators were back to square one.

Wilson went back to Parabon and asked if there was anything else the DNA could tell investigators about the man. The company sent the DNA to a genetic genealogist in August 2022, and by the end of the month, she had found something.

Using his DNA, the genealogist was able to track down a “close familial match” to a man that lived in Santa Barbara, California.

“She explained that the match was close enough that the remains were closely related to this individual,” the sheriff’s office said in the release. “She was also able to provide us with a name for a known close relative who resides in Madison, Tennessee.”

The sheriff’s office reached out to law enforcement in Santa Barbara, and found an incident report had been filed on May 8, 1997, where 20-year-old Jefferey Kimzy was a possible offender.

Investigators then traveled to Tennessee to speak with a relative of Kimzy’s, learning his biological parents were still living in California, according to the release.

DNA samples were collected from Kimzey’s parents, the sheriff’s office said, and after more than two decades, investigators could finally confirm the body was of Jefferey Kimzy.

“It is still unknown exactly how he came to be deceased in a shallow creek in Western Marshall County,” the sheriff’s office said. “However, investigators are still actively working this investigation.”

With the identification, Orr told McClatchy News they have “generated useful leads and have identified some persons of interest.”

Marshall County is in the northeast corner of Alabama, about 40 miles south of Huntsville.

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