Real Name: Unknown at time of broadcast
Case: Unidentified Remains/Suspicious Death
Location: Thermopolis, Wyoming
Date: 1960s, 1986 and 1992
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: In 1986, a man called "Gabby" left several of his possessions with his friend, Newel Sessions. Among the possessions was an old footlocker, which was placed and stored in a shed. Six years later, Newel opened the trunk and discovered it held the bones of a human being. He thought that they should give the remains a proper burial. However, his wife insisted that they contact the police.
Before he called the police, he contacted Gabby, asking if he knew about the remains. He claimed to have no idea about any human remains in a trunk. He said that he had never opened it. He believed he bought it at a garage sale, but could not remember when or where. According to Newell, he was very surprised when he learned that a skeleton was found inside of it.
Newell contacted Sheriff John Lumley who began an investigation. From the beginning, he was suspicious of Gabby. He could not understand why he never opened the trunk before. Gabby, however, claimed that he planned on opening the trunk. Since he did not have the proper tools, he decided not to open it.
Two days later, it was discovered through x-rays that a bullet was lodged in the skull. Lumley met with Gabby in order to get more information from him. He thought he had picked up the trunk in Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois or Oklahoma, although he could not be sure. He though he may have received in 1973, but possibly later than that.
Since the old trunk and lock were from the 1930s and older than Gabby, Newell was convinced that Gabby was not guilty of any murder. However, Lumley believes that he has knowledge of the person's identity.
On March 31, 1992, the bones were turned over to the Wyoming State Crime Lab who created a facial reconstruction of the man. The man possibly lost his life sometime after 1908 when the bullet was available. The old trunk might have been used by someone in the U.S. Armed Services between World War I and World War II. A bag for the supermarket chain "Hy-Vees" was found with the remains. It was first manufactured in the early 1950s.
Examination of the bones show they were of a Caucasian male from his 50s or 60s, about five-foot-eight in height. The remains had apparently been buried before. However, for unknown reasons, they were dug up and placed in the trunk. Strangely, his lower leg bones and one of his hands were missing. Several nicks were found on his rib cage. The bullet in his head was from a .25 caliber gun from the turn-of-the-century.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the February 24, 1993 episode. The man who owned the footlocker was given the fictitious name "Gabby".
Results: Solved. On October 25, 2017, the skeleton was identified as Joseph J. Mulvaney, born in 1923. Joseph's granddaughter, Shelley, helped lead to the identification, reportedly after seeing a re-airing of the Unsolved Mysteries broadcast. DNA testing with his daughter confirmed his identity. Investigators learned from his daughter that he had been shot and killed by her uncle, John David Morris (identified as "Gabby" in the segment), in 1960. It is believed that Joseph's wife (Morris's sister) was also involved. After the murder, Morris buried Joseph in the footlocker in Iowa. At some point, Morris dug the trunk back up and transported it to Wyoming, where he was working. He then left the trunk behind with Newel. He later moved to Mississippi where he committed suicide.
Joseph's remains have been returned to his family and military memorial service for him was held on March 29, 2019.
Sadly, Newel Sessions passed away in 2003, prior to the identification.
- Gabby's Bones on Unsolved.com
- Gabby's Bones on the Doe Network
- Gabby's Bones on Unidentified Wikia
- Obituary for Newel Sessions
- Hot Springs County Sheriff's Office Update
- ‘Skeleton in a Box’ case finally closed as dead body identified as Joseph Mulvaney
- Bones identified after being nameless for 25 years
- Bones ID'd as remains of man with Mattoon ties
- Bones of 1960 murder victim with Decatur ties identified by Wyoming sheriff's office
- Joseph Mulvaney at Find a grave tribute
- Remains found in trunk in 1992 to be buried
- From 'box of bones' to honored veteran