Human remains found near Clifton Nov. 23 identified
Authorities have determined the identity of human skeletal remains found by hunters in the Town of Clifton Nov. 23.
Monroe County Sheriff Wes Revels said the remains are those of Jose Juan Zuniga-Jimenez, who was last seen by his wife in March 2016.
A hunter located the remains near 19468 Cty. Hwy. W on a steep wooded slope under some trees that had apparently been downed by the wind. Authorities believe the trees were blown down after the body had been there. There were no obvious signs of foul play.
Shortly after the body was discovered, investigators were made aware of an abandoned vehicle that had been located in April 2016 a short distance from where the remains were found.
The vehicle was located near 32220 Cty. Hwy. A in the Town of Clifton with the keys left in the ignition. A deputy noted that the vehicle had been there for some time because grass was growing up around it.
Deputies were unable to locate the vehicle's owner and it was deemed abandoned. The vehicle was later towed and salvaged. The vehicle had been parked approximately 2,700 feet (about half a mile) over a hill and through a wooded area from where the skeletal remains were located.
According to the sheriff's department, the vehicle was reported stolen out of Sparta. The owner was out of the country at the time and only became aware his vehicle was stolen when he returned.
The vehicle owner believed that his roommate, who was Zuniga-Jimenez, may have used the vehicle to skip an upcoming court date.
The last time Zuniga-Jimenez was seen was in late March 2016, when he was involved in a domestic incident that was reported to the Elroy Police Department by his estranged wife, Juana Garcia. Zuniga-Jimenez fled the scene before police arrived.
When police questioned Garcia on Jan. 11 of this year, she said she hadn't seen or heard from Zuniga-Jimenez since the domestic incident. She gave a description of the vehicle he left in, which matched the one discovered abandoned.
Investigators obtained DNA samples from the couple's children, which was used to confirm the remains were those of Zuniga-Jimenez who would have turned 41 last November. The cause of death hasn't been determined and authorities are not certain that one will be.
The Monroe County Joint Investigative Task Force, Department of Justice Crime lab, UW Hospital in Madison, Monroe County Medical Examiner, Wisconsin State Patrol, Monroe County Sheriff’s Reserves, and Monroe County 911 communication center assisted the sheriff's department throughout the investigation.
Anyone who may have additional information about the case is urged to contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office