Authorities identify body as South Milwaukee man
The death is being investigated as a homicide, but a sheriff's detective said it will be challenging to discover the cause of death.
The remains of Daniel M. Walden were identified by sheriff's officials earlier this month. Walden was reported missing in December 1998 and his remains were found March 26, 2002, on Bowers Road north of Alpine Valley Music Theater by a man looking for aluminum cans.
At the time, investigators estimated the bones probably had been there for three to 10 years. They believed the man was between 40 and 55 years old when he died and between 5-foot-7 and 6-foot-2.
Walden was 38 at the time of his disappearance.
Authorities said the cause of his death was blunt force trauma to the head. The case is being investigated as a homicide but authorities would not say if they believe the death was caused intentionally.
Detective David Fladten, who is leading the investigation, said it will be challenging to determine the cause of death because the body had been on Bowers Road for so long.
Fladten said investigators identified the body by using forensic facial reconstruction, dental records and nuclear and mitochondrial exams.
The sheriff's office obtained a DNA sample from Walden's mother in 2006 and sent it to the FBI lab in Virginia. In May 2009, the lab notified Walworth County authorities they had a match.
Fladten said until now the sheriff's office had worked on identifying the man. Now, they'll begin investigating the cause of death.
He declined to release more information because the investigation is ongoing.
Fladten said the family has a feeling of relief and sorrow.
"They're concerned about how he died," he said. "They were obviously hoping he would be alive somewhere."
Walden's family had been notified earlier this month, and they held a memorial service Sunday at St. Adalbert Cemetery in Milwaukee.
Walden is a 1978 graduate of Franklin High School and served in the Marine Corps. from November 1979 to September 1985.