Idaho authorities are looking into similarities between the discovery last month of mummified human limbs in a cave near Dubois with the 1989 dismemberment of a Salt Lake man.
Clark County Sheriff Craig King said he was contacted by Utah detectives who investigated the February 1989 murder of 51-year-old Larry Duane White, who was shot and cut into pieces by a man police say then assumed White's identity.Robert Eugene Bennett, 52, pleaded guilty to White's slaying and is serving a five-year-to-life sentence at the Utah State Prison.
Salt Lake County sheriff's detective Manny Lassig said lawmen have long suspected Bennett of similar crimes. Bennett has repeatedly refused to talk to police.
"He's dangerous," Lassig said. "And he's really scary."
After talking to Lassig, King said there are parallels between the White homicide and the gruesome discovery last month of human arms and legs by artifact hunters.
He said the limbs have been matched to the torso of an unidentified man found about 100 feet deeper in the cave nearly 12 years ago.
The cause of death was undetermined, but police have always considered it a homicide.
Like the Utah case, the arms and legs had been cleanly severed, still bore remnants of clothing and had been wrapped up. Also, some of the parts had been buried.
King said investigators will return to the cave to look for the head.
The cases are "similar in a lot of ways," King said. "We'd sure like to know whether (Bennett) was ever in the area. And we'd sure like to know who our victim is."
The Salt Lake investigation revealed Bennett had been living in Beaverton, Ore., in 1978, when his wife disappeared. Authorities there consider him the prime suspect in that case.
King acknowledged dissimilarities as well and said it would be premature to consider Bennett a suspect.
For one, White had been shot multiple times in the chest before being cut up. White's legs, torso and head were all wrapped in plastic instead of burlap like the Idaho remains.
All of the Idaho parts had been buried. White's legs, however, were found in a trash bin behind a supermarket on Feb. 22, 1989.
Bennett was arrested in Las Vegas two months later, where he apparently was in the process of assuming White's identity.
He had used several names in the past, Lassig said, but none have been linked to missing persons.
But if White was any example, investigators have said, potential victims would have been men with few ties whose disappearance would have gone virtually unnoticed.
Lassig said detectives caught Bennett only because he apparently didn't know White was living with his 79-year-old father, who reported him missing three days before the legs were found.
Based on evidence found at Bennett's Las Vegas apartment, detectives located an isolated South Salt Lake home where they found White's torso and head buried in the back yard. The arms were never found.
Meantime, King said he will continue efforts to identify the Idaho remains.