The person on a driver's license found near skeletal remains in a wooded area of College Road Sunday has not been reported missing on national law enforcement databases, according a Monroe County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
But until county Medical Examiner Dr. E. Hunt Scheuerman has completed his examination, officials will not know if the remains are those of the man on the out-of-county driver's license, said spokeswoman Becky Herrin.
The remains were discovered on Sunday by a tourist who was in the area bird watching and studying exotic wildlife, but he didn't report the remains until Monday while he was already leaving the Florida Keys, Herrin said.
"It was a strange situation where he called dispatchers the next day (Monday) on his way out of the Keys, but there is no indication that the caller was in any way involved in the death," Herrin said. "We weren't able to talk to him face to face, but why he didn't immediately report the remains, I don't know."
The remains appeared to have been in the wooded area across from Gerald Adams Elementary School for months. Credit cards and cash were also found near the remains, Herrin said.
Detectives and examiners can't use some of the tools at their disposal to identify people, such as fingerprints, because the remains didn't have any, Herrin said. That likely means it could take longer to identify the body and alert the family, she added.
"There's no indication it was a violent death, so our main concern is finding out who the person is and letting the family know," Herrin said.
"We are fortunate in this case that we have a tentative I.D., but don't know if that's him or not," Scheuerman said. "The records were found in the vicinity and appear to be related, but whether or not they are his has not been answered."
If detectives can find the family of the man on the driver's license, that person's dental records or other medical records such as X-rays can be used for comparison, said the medical examiner. Sometimes that happens quickly, sometimes much later, and sometimes never, he said.
"We hope to luck out with family and make an identification in this case," Scheuerman said.
When Scheuerman started working the Florida Keys in 2008, there were 33 unresolved remains cases. He has subsequently been able to identify every remain found thereafter, he said.
One problem Scheuerman has encountered is that sometimes the remains are that of a homeless person and family may have long lost track of dental or medical records belonging to the individual.
College Road leads from U.S. 1 to Lower Keys Medical Center, Florida Keys Community College, the Key West Golf Club, a gated community and attached marina, the sheriff's office and jail, and the city's only homeless shelter.
The body was found about a half-mile from the county jail. Next door is the city's Keys Overnight Temporary Shelter (KOTS), which provides a place for homeless people to sleep each night.
Each evening, dozens of men and women make the trek to KOTS, pushing bicycles and carrying belongings in trash bags. Once at the shelter, each is offered a vinyl mattress and a shower.
At 6:30 p.m., KOTS staff begins letting people onto the property, 10 at a time. Everyone is awakened at 6:30 a.m. and must leave KOTS by 7:30 a.m.