Police identify skeletal remains found in Clifton

The skeletal remains of Jose Juan Zuniga-Jimenez were found in the town of Clifton on Nov. 23.

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office announced last week that it had identified skeletal found Nov. 23, 2018, in the town of Clifton, near County Highway W.

The remains, which a hunter had found on a steep hill in a wooded area, were those of Jose Juan Zuniga-Jimenez, though the cause of death had not been determined, according to a press release prepared by the sheriff’s office.

Jose Juan Zuniga-Jimenez was born in 1977, according to the sheriff’s office.

The following is a timeline of the investigation.

• Nov. 23, 2018: Skeletal remains were found near 19468 County Hwy. W, town of Clifton.

• Nov. 24–26, 2018: The Wisconsin Crime Lab technicians assisted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office in locating, documenting and recovering additional bones and evidence from the scene. The skeletal remains were taken to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison for a forensic autopsy. Further evidence was collected from the autopsy and sent to the crime lab for DNA testing.

• Nov. 25, 2018: Investigators were made aware of an abandoned vehicle that had been located in 2016 a short distance from where the remains were found.


• April 20, 2016: A deputy responded to an abandoned vehicle near 32220 County Hwy. A, Clifton. Keys were left in the ignition, and grass was growing around the vehicle as if it had been there for a number of weeks or months. Deputies were unable to make contact the vehicle’s owner. Later, the vehicle was towed and salvaged. The vehicle had been parked about 2,700 feet (about half a mile) over a hill and through a wooded area from where the remains were located.

• May 2, 2016: The vehicle was reported stolen out of Sparta. The vehicle’s owner had been out of the country at the time and was not aware his vehicle had been stolen until he returned. The vehicle owner believed that his roommate, Zuniga-Jimenez, might have used the vehicle to skip a court date.


• March 31, 2016: A domestic incident was reported to Elroy Police Department involving Jose Juan Zuniga Jimenez and Juana Garica. Zuniga-Jimenez and Garica were married, but separated. Zuniga-Jimenez fled the scene prior to law enforcement’s arrival.


• Jan. 8, 2019: The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office received a Wisconsin Criminal Laboratory report that DNA was obtained from the remains and that the DNA profile was entered into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) for a one-time search.

• Jan. 11, 2019: Contact was made with Garica, who had not seen or heard from Zuniga-Jimenez since the domestic dispute in March 2016. Garica suggested that Zuniga-Jimenez had driven off in a vehicle similar to the one that was abandoned near County Hwy. A. DNA was obtained from Zuniga-Jimenez and Garica’s two children and sent to the Wisconsin Crime Lab for DNA comparison

• Jan. 22, 2019: Investigators received a Wisconsin Crime Lab report indicating that the one-time search of the DNA obtained from the remains matched a Wisconsin offender identified as Zuniga-Jimenez.

• March 1, 2019: A Wisconsin Crime Lab report confirmed that the DNA from the remains and the DNA from Zuniga-Jimenez and Garica’s children proved a parent/child relationship, and the family was notified.

The investigative team was assisted by the Monroe County Joint Investigative Task Force, the Department of Justice Crime Lab, the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison, the Monroe County Medical Examiner, the Wisconsin State Patrol, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Reserves, and the Monroe County 911 communication center.

Anyone who has information on this case should contact the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office at 269-2117.

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