Alabama authorities revealed this week that a headless body found in 1997 has been identified as a Santa Barbara man.

The remains were determined to be Jefferey Douglas Kimzey, 20, using DNA testing, according to the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office.

The Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday that the body was found on April 15, 1997, in a wooded area in Union Grove, which is in northern Alabama.

“The body was identified as a white male, however, due to the removal of the head, hands and feet, it was impossible to give an accurate age or description,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement.

An autopsy determined the cause of death was homicide, and the removal of body parts was done intentionally, “most likely to make identification impossible.”

The investigation became a cold case, one that would stay in detectives’ minds for decades.

Alabama media reported that many law enforcement officers, including retired ones, attended this week’s press conference announcing the body finally being identified.

San Marcos High School yearbook photos of Jefferey Douglas Kimzey and a computer rendering of what the found person may have looked like. Credit: Marshall County Sheriff's Office photo

Recent improvements in DNA testing and genealogical research gave the case its break, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“In November of 2019; Sheriff Sims and then Chief Investigator Keith Wilson made contact with Parabon NanoLabs, a DNA Technology company,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. “Through a process called DNA phenotyping, Parabon could give us some possible physical characteristics for what our subject may have looked like.”

Alabama media said genealogical testing led investigators to family members in Santa Barbara, and they collected DNA samples from Kimzey’s parents to confirm the identification.

Kimzey had attended San Marcos High School in the 1990s, according to yearbook photos provided by authorities.

The Sheriff’s Office identified him as Jefferey Douglas Kimzey, but his name has also been spelled as Jeffrey Douglas Kimzey.

The Sheriff’s Office has “persons of interest” in the homicide case, and DNA evidence from items found at the scene where Kimzey’s body was found, officials said in a statement.

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Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Managing Editor

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at