By M.P. Pellicer | Eerie.News
UPDATED AUGUST 2022
Unlike Lake Superior that never gives up its dead, Lake Mead, with its unusual dropping water levels, has been giving up all its secrets, including those who've been enjoying a watery grave for at least 40 years.
UPDATE - August, 2022
Fourth set of human remains found in Lake Mead on August 6, 2022. The discovery was made at Swim Beach, and Nevada's Clark County Coroner has yet to release any information as to the identity or how the person died.
Pending this disclosure, Todd Kolod, 67, says he believes the second set of remains found belong to his father Daniel, who drowned in Callville Bay in 1958 when he was 3 years old. His father's body was never recovered after he was thrown from a boat which flipped due to a wake.
The boat the two men were riding in was found circling on its own about a mile from the drowning site, however Daniel Kolod, 22, was never found. The other man in the boat survived.
The discovery made on May 7, 2022 at Callville Bay of a partial denture appears to match Daniel Kolod teeth. Daniel Kolod lost his front teeth in a car accident a year before his drowning and wore a partial denture. DNA samples were taken to confirm the identity of the remains, however none has been taken from members of the Kolod family. The coroner said the person was aged between 23 to 38 years.
Todd Kolod noted on Find A Grave regarding a memorial on the site for his father Daniel, "His father was a mobster named Ruby Kolod, although there is no suggestion that Daniel's death was a result of foul play."
In 1954, newspapers listed Ruby Kolod as one of the owners of the Showboat Casino and Hotel which opened that year. He was also one of the principal owners of the Desert Inn which was bought in 1967 by Howard Hughes. In 1965, Kolod was convicted of extortion in federal courts. He died in 1967, from a heart attack while awaiting an appeal to the supreme court for his conviction.
UPDATE JULY 2022
On July 25, 2022 the National Park Service recovered human remains at the water line of the swimming area at Swim Beach in Lake Mead.
It was partially encased in mud. The gender and cause of death is still pending.
The coroner's office is still trying to identify the man found in a rusted barrel on May 1 in the Hemenway Harbor area, and the second man whose bones were found on a sand bar near Callville Bay. The body in the barrel is considered a homicide by the local police department since the man was shot.
On July 6, the body of a 22-year-old woman was recovered after she disappeared while riding a personal watercraft. He cause of death has yet to be determined.
On July 28, 2022, the body of a kayaker was recovered after he was reported struggling to retrieve an inflatable kayak that had blown away the evening before. This was near SCUBA Beach, and rangers had to suspend the search temporarily due to severe storms through the evening.
The 31-year-old man was not wearing a life vest.
Lake Mead is located in Nevada and Arizona. It's a reservoir created by the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River, a project completed in 1936. In terms of capacity, it's the largest reservoir in the United States and has a surface area of 247 square miles. It provides water to 20 million people and three states in the Southwest.
Increasing water demand and drought has brought Lake Mead to below full capacity since 1983. As of March 2022, it's at 31% of full capacity.
During the construction of the Hoover Dam the town of St. Thomas, founded in 1865 by Mormon settlers was abandoned and flooded. It was a stopping point between Los Angeles and Salt Lake City along the Arrowhead Trail. The 500 settlers were forced to vacate their homes, and the last hold out left in 1938. The tallest structure lay under 60 feet of water, but now the ruins of the ghost town are exposed and can be visited by tourists.
However long before the Mormon's settled St. Thomas, there were other people who lived there.
About 1,000 A.D., Native Americans came to the Moapa Valley of Southern Nevada, which would eventually become Lake Mead. The Hopi call them "ancient ones" or Hisatsinom. Archaeologists identified them as Anasazi or the Ancestral Pueblo People.
In 1827, Jebediah Smith found artifacts while exploring the area. These belonged to the Pueblo Grande de Nevada. In 1924, John and Fay Perkins stumbled across the ruins of the "Lost City".
With the construction of the Hoover Dam, the Lost City was covered with water as well.
In 1948, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress which was testing a prototype missile guidance system known as a "suntracker" crashed and sits at the bottom of the lake. There are also two small planes that are lying at the bottom keeping it company.
In June, 2011 a man's body was found near Callville Bay in the Lake. It was Ruben Aguirre, 38, a boater who had been missing since May 31.
However all these discoveries, while interesting were documented, but after May 1, 2022 the receding water levels finally reached the tipping point where secrets could no longer hide in the depths of Lake Mead.
The first was a rusted barrel strewn up on the shore; a body crammed inside. There's good reason to believe the remains belong to someone who met with foul play, besides being stuffed inside a barrel that is. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said the man died from a gunshot wound, and based on his clothing and shoes he's been in the lake since the mid-1970s to early 1980s.
A few days later, a second barrel was spotted close to the Hemenway Harbor boat ramp not far from where the first one came onshore. It had a small hole in it which revealed it was empty.
Before the end of the month, someone paddle boarding came across bones, which they thought belonged to a bighorn sheep. However sheep don't have teeth with silver fillings. That's when it became apparent the remains were human.
Located only 30 miles east of Las Vegas, many believe these might be victims of organized crime. Instead of a ride into the desert, it seems that a ride to the lake would be the last one you would make.
During those years, Las Vegas tried to downplay its connection to the Mafia, now tourists can pay to take a "mob tour".
It's not a far stretch to believe these two discoveries are tied to Las Vegas mob violence.
In 1976, Johnny Pappas disappeared. He worked in the Las Vegas casino industry, and he had underworld connections to Chicago.
On the night of August 18, he left to meet two men who were interested in buying a boat he owned. It was kept at Lake Mead.
Three days later, at the parking lot of Circus Circus, his vehicle was found with the keys in the ignition.
Without proof he was dead, the news stories about his disappearance faded from the newspapers.
Unofficially, police thought Pappas' disappearance was the work of Tony Spilotro who was suspected of more than 20 murders linked to the mob. Made famous by Martin Scorsese and Joe Pesci, Spilotro died in 1986.
Could any of these remains be Spilotro's handiwork, or any others who became the victims of Vegas' dark underbelly?
According to Travis Heggie, a former public risk management specialist for the U.S. National Park Service, Lake Mead along with Big Bend National Park stand out as parks with a high potential for criminal activity because of their location. He suspects that not only what's left of the dearly departed can be found there, but the instruments that departed them from this life as well.
As the water level drops, things that have always been there, forgotten and hidden, poke into daylight.
No doubt, there are many that expect Lake Mead has not finished giving up its dead. Charlie Hanks the owner of the Blaspheme Boutique on the Vegas strip, and purveyors of dark products, is selling small bottles of what looks like dirty water, labeled "Lake Mead Corpse Water". The actual ingredients are a concoction of witch hazel, glass rocks, dirt and green mica.
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