Body of Missing Santa Barbara Man Identified After 26 Years

[Warning: The below story contains graphic details]

By the edhat staff

Jefferey Douglas Kimzey went missing in 1997 and through DNA advancements, detectives have identified his body in a brutal murder investigation.

Alabama’s Marshall County Sheriff’s Office announced this week they have identified the remains from a cold case as 20-year-old Kimzey from Santa Barbara.

On April 15, 1997 a teenager discovered a decomposing body in a wooded area near the town of Union Grove, Alabama. 

According to the county’s Chief Investigator, Keith Wilson, the head and hands were cut off with “some type of saw,” while the feet were gnawed off by animals. The heart and spleen had been removed with surgical-type skill, leading investigators to believe they may have held evidence and/or delay identification of the body. Additionally, a handful of air fresheners were found nearby.

San Marcos High School yearbook photos from 1993-1995 of Jefferey Kimzey compared to a DNA composite profile (courtesy)

“Someone went to great lengths to hide the identity of our victim and the cause of his death,” said Wilson, “the victim’s feet were bound by rope and then around the scene, they found other pieces of rope.”

Investigators were unable to identify the “moderately decomposed” body and believed he may have been stabbed or shot in a separate location before being dumped in that area.

For 26 years investigators believed the victim was between 20-30 years old, about 5’9″ in height, weighing 150 pounds, and possibly with “strawberry blonde” hair. He was wearing a Faded Glory short-sleeve pullover shirt with blue, green and gray vertical stripes, and 32×30 Levi Strauss 501 jeans.

In 2021, the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office released a public DNA Analysis of the victim and a photo composite of what he might look like created by Parabon Nanolabs,

Snapshot DNA analysis of a murder victim found in 1997 in Marshall County, Alabama (courtesy)


In August 2022, the same DNA analysis company reached out to investigators stated they had a close genealogical match to the victim who lived in Tennessee. That relative was able to point authorities to Santa Barbara where DNA tests confirmed a positive identity of Jefferey Kimzey’s parents.

Several days before the body was discovered investigators received tips regarding a Caucasian man “acting nervous” driving an early 90s model maroon Chevy truck with tinted windows. 

A sketch was released of the man as a potential suspect, but the case went cold. 

Composite sketch of a possible suspect from 1997 (WHNT photo)


Now with the victim’s identity being confirmed, investigators will continue working with Parabon NanoLabs to analyze DNA on items found at the scene.

Anyone with further information about this case is urged to contact the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office at 256-582-2034.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. What a handsome young man. Despite the tragic circumstances, I only hope that the family is able to find some solace in knowing that their loved one has finally been located. May God bless this family and I shall keep them in my prayers. (Due to the situation, please refrain from criticizing my reference to God.)

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