Have Sin City mobsters been using the biggest lake near Las Vegas to hide the bodies of their murder victims?
We may be about to find out, now that climate change is driving the lake’s waterline down to unprecedented levels.
A third set of human remains was pulled out of the lake bottom on Monday, the National Park Service said, after a witness discovered it on Swim Beach. Officials haven’t yet determined the cause of death. But they have said they expect to find more cold-case murder victims as the waters recede.
“It's likely that we will find additional bodies that have been dumped in Lake Mead” as the water level continues to decline, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer told reporters in May. “The lake has drained dramatically over the last 15 years.”
In addition to dead bodies, the receding lake is revealing sunken boats and even a World War II-era landing craft, after recently reaching its lowest point since the Colorado River reservoir was first filled up in the 1930s. The climate change-driven “Western Mega-drought,” which scientists call the worst in the western U.S. in at least 1,200 years.
The two-decade-long dry spell helped reduce the flow of the river feeding the lake, the Colorado River, by 20%, while local water use has increased.
In early May, a decayed body with a gunshot wound was discovered inside a metal barrel on the lake’s floor. Local police say that case is being treated as a homicide. The body was dressed in clothes from the late 1970s or early 1980s, officials said.
A second body was found on May 7, in Callville Bay, although officials haven’t given more details about the cause of death.
Falling water levels at Lake Mead are also putting water supplies and electricity at risk in the Western U.S. The lake provides crucial resources like drinking water and hydropower resources to 25 million people, including the cities of Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Tucson, and San Diego.
The lake is in danger of achieving “dead pool” status, when it can no longer deliver hydropower or send water downstream. That happens when the water falls below the lake’s intake valves. One of the valves was exposed in April for the first time since it was built in 1971.
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