BELTSVILLE, Md. - A murder mystery that has baffled detectives for over three decades has partially been solved. Prince George's County police have finally identified a man whose decomposed body was found in a field in 1984.
Thirty-three years after he was gunned down in a Beltsville field, the man known as John Doe finally has a name. The FBI notified Prince George's County police last month that new fingerprint technology had linked the remains to Bennett Louis, a man who had vanished after telling his family he was moving to North Carolina.
Louis had just left the Marine Corps and was setting up a new life in Jacksonville, North Carolina when he suddenly disappeared. His daughter Monnica Davis, who was seven years old at the time of his disappearance, had no idea what happened to him until a sheriff's deputy knocked on her aunt's door.
"I was shocked,” Davis said. “I thought it was a joke. I really didn't think it was for real.”
She lives in Louisiana and told FOX 5 she went looking for her father years ago and was told by investigators there was no evidence her father was dead.
But when Louis did not show up for his father or sister’s funeral, Davis said, “That's when I began to say, ‘Hey, I think he is dead. No one doesn’t show up for their father’s, sister’s funeral, and years passing and still don’t show up.’ I knew then there is a good possibility he was dead.”
On Oct. 21, 1984, a father and son decided to take a walk in a wooded area off of Ammendale Road in Beltsville where they found the badly decomposed remains of Louis. When police arrived, they discovered that there was evidence he was shot elsewhere, there was evidence he was dragged to where his body was found and his pockets had been turned inside out.
Bernie Nelson, the detective who now has this case, said an advancement in fingerprint technology helped investigators finally make the identification.
“It actually was a shock to hear that an identification was made from 1984,” said Nelson. “So when I grabbed the file to look at it and see how they could have made it off of skeletal remains is when I read the description of how they were able to find some skin on a couple of fingers.”
Now that he knows who was found in that field that day, Det. Nelson said he needs some help.
"The first thing we need to do and why we are doing this story is to find out why he was here because the family has no idea why he was in Maryland or the D.C. area for that matter, and we don't stop working cases no matter how long the time has passed,” he said.
Monnica Davis never really knew her father, but she said she knows he was a good man.
"He was really athletic, he loved to play sports,” she said. “He played baseball, he played basketball. Very friendly guy. He was easy to get along with.”
Records show Louis left the Marine Corps in June of 1983. He was killed a little over a year later.
Det. Nelson believes there was more to Louis's murder and it just wasn't over a robbery.
If you know anything about the whereabouts of Louis in the months, weeks or days leading up to his death, you are asked to contact Det. Nelson of Prince George's County police at 301-772-4925. A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered in this case.