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Mystery deepens over headless corpse found in Wyoming

By Laura Zuckerman

(Reuters) - An unidentified man whose headless corpse was found by duck hunters along a rural Wyoming roadside was determined to have been shot to death, and authorities sought public help on Monday in solving the deepening mystery over his killing.

A man and his young son were on a duck-hunting outing on January 9 northwest of Cody, near the border with Montana, when they stumbled on the dismembered body in a drainage ditch off a roadway, the Park County Sheriff's Office in Wyoming said.

Investigators aided by cadaver dogs have scoured the sagebrush flats near where the body was found but have so far failed to locate the man's head or other unspecified body parts that were likely removed after death, Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said on Monday.

An autopsy by a Wyoming forensic pathologist determined the man died of multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.

"The sheriff's office will continue to aggressively pursue this investigation with primary focus on identifying the victim and bringing his killers to justice," Steward said, adding his office was asking anyone with information that may assist the investigation to come forward.

The man was wearing jeans, a decorative leather belt with ornamented buckle and top-of-the-line work boots when he was killed on or around January 7, he said.

He was of medium height and stocky build and may have been an agricultural or ranch worker, and was described by authorities as a Caucasian or very light-skinned Hispanic male younger than 35 years old.

The craftsmanship and design of his belt and buckle, which depicts the head of horse, suggest a form of leather craftsmanship known as "piteado," associated with villages in Mexico and Guatemala and popular with horsemen or cowboys, Steward said.

But where the man was from, where he resided and whether he was killed in rural Wyoming or elsewhere are not yet known and no suspects are in custody, he said. He said authorities were following up on dozens of leads but had not yet been able to identify the man.

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)

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