Douglas D. Goss, 28, was staying with his brother in Guerneville, Calif., in August 1987.
Unemployed, Goss was going to stay with his brother for two weeks, and then his brother was going to drive Goss to their mother’s house in Glendale, Ariz.
Instead of waiting on his brother, Goss left a note on Aug. 16, saying he would find a way to get there on his own.
Goss never arrived. And his brother filed a missing-person report on Sept. 11.
County deputies found a body with no identification in the forest just off Devil Dog Road near Williams on Aug. 30. The body was of a man who had been killed by being hit in the head with a blunt object. The body was identified as Goss in mid-December.
His killer is still unknown. The motive for the killing may have been robbery.
“The initial injury and the theft of his suitcase is unique,” said Joe Sumner, volunteer investigator for the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office cold case unit.
The cold case unit is currently trying to solve nearly 40 cases in the county like Goss’s. Sumner, who retired from the National Park Service in 2007 as a criminal investigator, came onto the cold case unit in 2008.
Goss’s body was decomposed and found about 200 yards south of Interstate 40, and about 150 feet off Devil Dog Road. The approximate date of death was Aug. 18.
Devil Dog Road has been the location of another murder scene in the past -- that of Devil Dog Doe. Her body remains unidentified and her murder unsolved.
Goss’s body was found near a transient camp and there was still thermal underwear in the body’s hand. Based on evidence at the scene, Goss had used the underwear to try to stop bleeding from the back of his head before he died.
The blow was fatal, but he was still able to walk from the camp, Sumner said.
“He was conscious for a period of time,” Sumner added.
The thermal underwear and other items at the scene had been in a suitcase Goss took with him from his brother’s home, but the suitcase was never recovered, Sumner said. It appears somebody was there with him with whom he had spent some time and who would steal a hitchhiker’s suitcase.
His body was clothed in Lee Ryder cutoff jeans, blue Nike shoes and feminine-looking bikini briefs.
Deputies booked into evidence a towel, prescription eyeglasses, purple acrylic blanket, thermal underwear with blood clots and a piece of metal in the shape of a triangle.
As for his daily life, Goss earned money by going to junkyards and selling antique car parts. He lived with his parents and received an allowance from them. He had no other job to speak of, and his has a criminal record in the Phoenix area for DUI, disorderly conduct, burglary and attempted burglary between the years of 1979 and 1986.
On family advice, Goss never gave a correct name when arrested. So, he has a number of aliases, including Ben Williams, Ben Johnson, David Goss and David Doss.
According to a brother, Goss was involved in drugs and had an alcohol problem.
Some of the evidence that was seized at the crime scene back in 1987 will be resubmitted for DNA testing, Sumner said of next steps in the case.
If anybody has information about this case, contact the sheriff’s office cold case division at 774-4523, or visit the Facebook page.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.