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Bones found 24 years ago finally identified

by F.T. Norton
Nevada Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal
NEVADA APPEAL |

LOCKWOOD ” Storey County police are investigating a homicide more than two decades after bones discovered on a hill in Lockwood were identified as belonging to a Reno man who last had contact with his family in 1982.

DNA testing revealed remains found Oct. 31, 1984, by bird hunters are those of Theodore Allen, 32. A search of the area on Wednesday yielded new evidence including an eyeglass lens that fits perfectly into frames found with the body 24 years ago, an investigator said.

As part of Storey County Sheriff James Miller’s program to re-open cold cases, in July investigators began looking into two unsolved body cases in their jurisdiction, said Detective Lt. Ken Quirk.

One case involves remains that washed ashore in the Truckee River in 1994. The second was Allen’s remains found 200 yards from the former location of the Mustang Ranch Brothel in Lockwood.

“There were two deceased people in our county and the sheriff wanted those remains identified,” said Quirk.

Because of Allen’s mixed ethnicity of black and American Indian revealed in a pathologist’s examination in 1984, it was easy to match him up with a missing person’s report, said Quirk.

Once the connection was found, Storey investigators located Allen’s mother in Michigan in August and asked her to submit to DNA testing.

A week ago, those results came back confirming the remains belonged to Allen.

According to Quirk, Allen’s family last spoke with him in 1982. He had been living in Reno for about three years at the time of his disappearance.

Quirk said 16 years after their last contact with him, Allen’s mother and brother asked a judge to declare him dead.

The judge told the family they would first have to file a missing person’s report. It was that report in 2000 that closed the link, said Quirk.

“We’ve been able to put this 24-year mystery to rest for a family in Michigan,” he said. “That, ultimately, makes this whole investigation worthwhile.”

Quirk said after visiting the location where the remains were found, coupled with the information found in files kept by investigators in 1984, all indications point to the fact that Allen was murdered.

The casino worker and one-time brothel employee had a home and friends he communicated with frequently.

“We found one woman who said he called her twice a week and then the calls abruptly stopped,” said Quirk.

The plateau, which remains virtually unchanged according to photographs taken at the crime scene, offers no shelter and does not provide a path to anything, Quirk said.

“This is not really a location for someone to come and die of natural causes,” he explained.

He said the case file also reveals that investigators once looked at a suspect in California, though they had no idea of Allen’s identity. After questioning the suspect in 1984, the case went cold, said Quirk.

For nearly quarter of a century the bones were kept at the Washoe County Coroner’s Office while a family in Michigan wondered what happened to their son and brother, said Quirk. Now with an identity, it could be a matter of time before the case is solved.

“We are diligently working to put an end to this so the Allen family can have some closure,” he said.

Anyone who may have information on this case, or who may have known Allen is asked to call the Storey County Sheriff’s Department at 847-0950 or Secret Witness at 322-4900.

Contact reporter F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.