ASSATEAGUE – Worcester County detectives this week are no closer to identifying the remains of an individual discovered on the beach at Assateague Island earlier this month, although an effort is underway to determine a possible connection to a Silver Spring, Md. man reported missing in nearby Dewey Beach in late October.
Shortly after 3 p.m. on Nov. 6, a federal park ranger patrolling the beach along the north end of the Assateague Island National Seashore located the remains of an unidentified adult male. The preliminary investigation revealed that sometime in the 24 hours prior to the discovery, the body had washed up on the north shore of Assateague Island in the area of the two-mile marker.
According to police reports, the unidentified body was clothed only in a pair of Levi’s jeans and a black Patagonia-brand belt. There was no identification discovered on the body, which was sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore for a complete autopsy and possible identification. According to police reports, the deceased was roughly 5’7” tall and weighed between 140 and 160 pounds.
As of mid-week, the remains had not been positively identified although Worcester County Bureau of Investigation (WCBI) detectives are exploring the possibility the recovered body could belong to a Silver Spring, Md. man reported missing in nearby Lewes, Del. in late October. Around 11 p.m. on October 23, a concerned citizen contacted the Dewey Beach Police Department to report suspicious property found on the beach in that Delaware resort community.
Dewey Beach Police responded to the scene of the discovery and met with a witness, who told officers the property was first observed earlier in the afternoon but was not reported under the assumption its owner would come return later to claim it. Dewey officers recovered the property and took it to the town’s police station.
An inventory search of the property turned up clothing, a large amount of cash, identification cards and numerous journals. The property’s owner was identified as Jung Han Lee, 36, of Silver Spring. Information contained in the journals concerned Dewey Beach officers and they concluded from them Lee could be a risk to himself, according to police reports.
Also included in the property was documentation that Lee had been in contact with the Easton Police Department two days earlier. Easton Police reported Lee had been dropped off at a convenience store in Easton and was scheduled to take a bus to Ocean City, but that was the last time he was seen.
Dewey police conducted a search of the area, but Lee was not located. All proper notifications were issued to surrounding police, medical and emergency services agencies and the victim’s family was active in the investigation. The following day, Dewey Police, assisted by several other police agencies, conducted a ground and aerial search throughout Dewey Beach and the Delaware Seashore State Park to the south to no avail. Lee has since been added to the NCIC database and is listed as missing person.
However, Worcester detectives are now trying to determine if the remains discovered on Assateague about a week after Lee was reported missing in Dewey Beach could be the same victim. In his missing persons report, Lee is listed at around 5’6” tall and about 150 pounds, which practically match the description of the remains found on Assateague.
“What we’ve done is submit some of the clothing to a DNA investigator in Virginia to determine if it could be the man reported missing in Delaware around the same time,” said WCBI Sgt. Harvey Brent this week. “If it’s not, we’re back to square one. That’s where we stand at the moment.”