The Unsolved Murder Of Septic Tank Sam

Despite the introduction of innovative forensic technology that has closed mysterious chapters of once unexplainable crimes, every year thousands of cold cases go unsolved. And that remains the state of affairs in the 40-year-old case of Septic Tank Sam.

Septic Tank Sam is the name given to the male victim in a bizarre case that took place in the rural town of Tofield, located in the Alberta province in Canada. In the spring of 1977, the body of an unidentified man was found inside a septic tank. The tank, located on a farm, was not in use at the time of the shocking discovery. The owners of the farmhouse, a married couple by the name of Charlie and Mavis McLeod, had not used their abandoned farm, but were on site that day in search of a pump.

While looking inside the tank to see if they could recover a pump, the couple spotted a sock, and then a brown shoe, according to Edmonton Journal. After a quick examination they saw that the brown shoe was connected to something. And then the McLeods realized what they were looking at inside the tank: a decomposing body.

Discovering Septic Tank Sam

Police were called to the scene. Investigators determined that the body was decomposed beyond recognition. The Edmonton Journal reported that the state of the body was so decomposed that they had to use ice-cream scoops to portion out the remains from the tank. It would later take months to determine the actual gender of the victim and the cause of death.

The grim details of how Septic Tank Sam came to die, then dumped in an abandoned septic tank, still alarms many today. An autopsy conducted on his remains later concluded that he was shot, severely beaten and tortured, and sexually defiled and mutilated. The person, or persons, who took his life also wanted him to never be found.

According to an interview with The Globe and Mail, one of the lead investigators in the case said Sam's body was thrown into the tank head first and apparently covered in lime, which would increase decomposition. "They did him in real good and, if the lime had done its job, there might never have been a body to find," said then-sergeant Ed Lammerts of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The autopsy also revealed Septic Tank Sam's potential time of death. Even though the McLeods initially found him in the tank in April of 1977, the condition of the body established that he was likely steeped in that tank for about a year, according to the Edmonton Journal.

Who was Septic Tank Sam?

Sam was a young man about 5'6" or 5'7" and in his late 20s or early 30s — authorities believed him to be 28 years old at the time of his death. Reports vary; some suggest he was white, and others report him as First Nations. Investigators were able to decipher the brand of the clothing he had on, but none of that helped put a name to the body.

The Globe and Mail reported that his dental records have been sent to hundreds of dentists across the country in hopes something discernible turns up. But over the years nothing has come to light. No one knows who Sam is, or who his killer might be, for that matter. In the late '90s, the Alberta chief medical examiner's office created a composite sketch of what Sam looked like, and a facial model of the sketch. Apparently, $1 million has already been spent in the investigation into this unsolved and mysterious death, including an exhumation, per Alberta Press Leader.

Online theories (at Morbidology) presume the case of Septic Tank Sam is the result of revenge for a crime he may have committed, but even with all the research, theories, and money spent to solve this case, nothing concrete has presented itself.