One Of The Bodies Recovered From Lake Mead Has Been Identified

The death of a man found shot and in a barrel has also been ruled as a homicide.

James Felton

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockAug 26 2022, 11:48 UTC
Lake Mead in Nevada, filled much lower than usual.
Five bodies have been found since May. Image credit: S-F/

A body has been identified after being discovered due to falling water levels at Lake Mead, Nevada. The body is one of five that have been found in the lake since May, one of which was likely placed in the waters after a suspected mob hit.

The Clark County coroner’s office has identified the skeletal remains found on May 7, 2022, as those of Thomas Erndt. Erndt, who was 42 years old when he "jumped from a boat" has been missing and presumed drowned since August 2, 2002.


“The identification was based on investigative information, DNA analysis and reports from the original incident,” Clark County spokesperson Dan Kulin said in a statement seen by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.  The official cause of death has not been determined.

In the same update, Kulin confirmed that another body found inside a barrel in the lake was a man who had died from a gunshot wound in a death that has been ruled a homicide. There may be more bodies to find in the lake, with around 300 drownings since the 1930s according to the National Park Service.

The drought has caused concern from surprising quarters, with one former lawyer to Vegas mob members claiming his clients had become interested in "climate control" at the lake to keep the waters high, as falling waters reveal more bodies, potentially connected to mafia hits.

For now, though, water levels at the reservoir are rising again after reaching the lowest levels seen since shortly after its creation in the 1930s. The reservoir has seen water levels drop by 50 meters (170 feet) since around the time a megadrought in the region began in 2000.

  • tag
  • death,

  • climate,

  • Lake Mead