Image courtesy of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service.

A 37-year-old cold case in Carrollton is heating up as NCIS agents prepare to open an investigation.  On July 24, 1975,  Daniel Erickson, 20, left his home in St. Paul, Minnesota to get on his new Navy ship, but he never arrived.  A Carrollton farmer found his body in a barn.  He had been shot twice in the chest and once in the head.  Click to hear KMZU’s Chelsea Wade talk with Cold Case Special Agent Kaylyn Dueker:

Kaylyn Dueker

Anyone with information on this case is urged to call the NCIS tip line at 1-877-579-3648.

Press Release from NCIS–Naval Criminal Investigative Service

The NCIS Cold Case Unit is asking for your help in finding a needle in a haystack.  Special Agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are hoping to find anyone who might have information about the murder of a Sailor that took place 37 years ago. NCIS is hoping for clues. The Sailor’s family is hoping for answers.

20 year old Daniel Erickson left his home in North Saint Paul Minnesota on July 24, 1975, heading to San Diego, California where he was to report to the USS Durham. He never made it.

On July 25th his beloved 1970 Camaro ended up in Birmingham Alabama, where it was involved in a traffic crash. One theory is that Daniel picked up a hitch-hiker who later killed him and stole his car.  Evidence indicates the killer drove Daniel’s car through Springfield, Missouri and Arkansas on the way.

He was not heard from for months; then his body was found in a barn in Carrollton, Missouri. The barn owner had not been there for years when he happened to stop by on Veterans Day 1975 and found Erickson’s remains. Investigators had to use dental records to identify the body.  Erickson had been shot twice in the chest and once in the head.

Birmingham Police investigating the hit and run found a .38 caliber revolver, clothes too small to fit Erickson, a backpack, sunglasses, a cigarette lighter and a few other items in Erickson’s Camaro.  Erickson’s family said at the time that they believed none of it was his.

Erickson’s parents have died since 1975, but his brother and sister are keeping the vigil and are maintaining the web site hoping for tips.

Erickson’s brother Jim is a long-time fan of the NCIS TV show and in 2009 he wondered if maybe the real NCIS had a cold case unit. He made some calls and connected with Cold Case Special Agent Kaylyn Dueker, who’s been working on the case since then. She’s examined evidence collected by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in Minnesota, Missouri and Alabama.

NCIS admits solving this murder is a long shot, but long shots have paid off for them before. The NCIS Cold Case Unit has cleared 63 murders since it was formed in 1995. One of those cases was 41 years cold when the killer was finally arrested and convicted.

Experience has shown the investigators that anything, such as a photo of a car like Erickson’s Camaro or some other seemingly minor clue, might rekindle a smoldering memory and prove to be crucial to the investigation.

In a 2009 interview with a Minnesota newspaper about the investigation, Jim Erickson was quoted as saying “I basically just want to know why my brother was taken from me.” His sister Dianna commented that forensic technology is far superior to techniques used in 1975, and science might be the saving grace when it comes to finding a suspect in the case.