Body found burned and decapitated in Barrington Hills, 1979 identified

April 02, 2024

On August 5th, 1979, the burned and decapitated body of a man was discovered in the affluent village of Barrington Hills, around an hour’s drive from Chicago, Illinois. Barrington Hills is a heavily forested suburb, where the residents enjoy hiking and horse-riding in the sprawling acres the community has to offer.

It was a horseback rider that happened upon a headless and partially charred body while riding through the tall grass along Old Dundee Road. The victim was described as a Caucasian male, and all that was left of him was a torso, and his legs, which were found nearby. The victim's arms and head were never recovered.

The Cook County Sheriff's Department assisted Barrington Hills Police in investigating the case.

On Aug 07, 1979, the Latrobe Bulletin wrote that "the victim's torso had been cleanly cut across the midsection, separating it in two." The cut was said to have been made with either a very sharp knife, or a saw. Police added that they believed the head and hands were separated and missing to prevent them from identifying the body. At the time they stated that they hoped any bones broken prior to the death would aid them in identifying John Doe, however, the chances were slight.

They estimated the victim was around 5'7" to 5'8" tall, and was under the age of fifty. They believed the body had been laying in the grass for around 24 hours before being discovered.

Medical examiner, Dr. Robert Stein, said the cause of death was "dismemberment in association with burning."

With no fingers to fingerprint, or a head to aid police in obtaining dentals, or even a composite sketch of the man’s likeness, the case inevitably went cold.

All investigators knew, was that the man had likely been killed and dismembered elsewhere, and his torso and legs transported to Old Dundee Road where they were later found.

Other newspapers at the time, including The Herald, who published an article titled: "Identity of a torso remains undetermined," Aug 07, 1979, revealed another shocking detail: The charred torso discovered on August 5 was not the first. In fact, it was "the fifth dismembered corpse dumped in the area in the past 16 months."

The article included that the body of a woman was found on the west side of an alley. The body had been dumped there in two plastic trash bags. She was the only victim of the five whose head was found.

The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote that police could not see any significant reason to believe the bodies were connected, although Police Chief Alfred W. Schuld was quoted as saying: "It's in the back of everybody’s mind." "There are a lot of different things about each of the slayings. What we've got here is a body that was very clean cut," he said. The paper also wrote that of the five decapitations, only one of the victim's heads had been recovered.

At the time John Doe was found, none of the prior four bodies had been identified. Police did not publicly state at the time if they believed there was any connection between the five bodies found dotted around the cities remote suburban locations.

 According to an article in The Billings Gazette published Aug 08, 1979, two bodies, belonging to that of a man and a woman, were found in forest area just half a mile away from one another, near Calumet City in the fall of 1978.

Calumet City is 1 hour and 14 minutes away from Barrington Hills via the I-294.

The torso of another victim was found in a lagoon by a fisherman in late April of 1978, near Glencoe, around 43 minutes from Barrington Hills. The remainder of the decapitated body was found in various plastic bags.

In late June of 1978, another victim's torso, that of a male, was discovered in a 55-gallon drum in a Canal near Lemont, around a 49 minute drive from Barrington Hills via the I-355 North.


The Barrington Hills Police Department released a statement last month announcing the identity of the 1979 Barron Hills John Doe.

The Barrington Hills Police Department joined forces with Texas-based laboratory, Othram, who created a comprehensive DNA profile of the victim and began an investigation into the unidentified man's genetic genealogy.

The crowdfunded genome sequencing was successful, and the Barrington Hill's John Doe was finally given back his name: Joseph A. Caliva. He was only 27 years old when he was murdered.

Caliva's half-sister, Linda Gressick, was identified as the victim's closest living relative. She was able to provide background on Caliva, whom she said was a former marine, and was working for Chicago's Streets and Sanitation department when he went missing in August 1979- the same month his body was found in Barrington Hills.

Gressick said she thought the news would bring her closure, but now felt she had more questions she needed answered, and wants to know what happened to her half-brother, Joseph Caliva.

Those with any information pertaining to Caliva and the case are encouraged to contact Barrington Hills detectives at: 847-551-3006 reference case number 1979-2050.


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