MILWAUKEE -- Investigators say they have positively identified the remains of a man's body found at Milwaukee's McGovern Park as 49-year-old Jeffrey Avery. This identification came after a story FOX6 News aired in which we showed several of the man's belongings.
Avery's family saw the story on FOX6 News, recognized the belongings and contacted investigators. Avery was later identified through his dental records.
Avery's remains were found on an island in the McGovern Park lagoon in March. That's when a federal wildlife worker studying goose eggs found the human remains.
Avery had been last seen by family on February 4, 2008.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled the cause of death as unknown. Avery had been in the park so long, what was left were his bones, from which the Medical Examiner cannot tell whether he died from natural causes or foul play.
Avery's family believes foul play may have been involved in Avery's death.
Avery's sister, Lowanda Smith sat down with FOX6 News Thursday, April 26th. Smith says she was shocked while watching FOX6 News and seeing the pictures of the belongings found with the body discovered in McGovern Park.
Those possessions included yellow metal chains with three rings, a pen, a lighter, a therapy ball, three keys on a key ring, an electronic gaming device for chess and checkers, a yellow metal Guess brand watch, a flashlight and case, and $1.62 in change.
The Medical Examiner's report says on February 4th, 2008, "Avery was very upset and drove away." Prior to that, Avery had been in jail, and stated to Smith that "he would kill himself before going back to prison."
The report goes on to say the car Avery was last seen driving was "towed by the city of Milwaukee in 2008 (after Avery was last seen alive) from McGovern Park."
Despite this, Smith said she believed her brother was alive all these years because someone was feeding her false information. "It was a friend of his that kept coming by and telling us that he's alive and she sees him quite often, and that he lives in Atlanta and he's gotten married and had a new baby," Smith said.
Avery's daughter also thought he would eventually come home. "People kept saying he's gonna come and see you. He's gonna call you. He wanted a picture and I'm sitting up here digging for pictures and stuff to give to this person for him to get it, and in the long run, he never got a thing," Avery's daughter Arreal said.
As it turns out, someone was searching for Avery, and that was the Department of Corrections. Avery was convicted of child sexual assault back in 2005, and missed an appointment with his agent around the same time Avery's sister last saw him alive.
"I would like police to really investigate and find out what happened and why people keep telling us he's alive when he's not," Smith said.
The Medical Examiner eventually confirmed the remains did belong to Avery through dental records. Avery's family says they were meeting with police Thursday, April 26th to discuss the case.