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By Marcus Huff
Staff Writer 

Cracking the 'Bones Case'

Hot Springs County identifies remains found in trunk

 

October 31, 2017



THERMOPOLIS – Newell Sessions’ buddy, Gabby, had left the trunk out in Sessions’ shed, and hadn’t come back to claim it for six years. When Sessions finally got around to opening the old military box in 1992, what he found inside would spawn a Wyoming murder mystery that lasted until this year, and finally peaked on the eve of Halloween.

A BULLET TO THE BRAIN

According to a release from the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office, sometime back around 1960, an Iowa man shot and killed his brother, firing a .25 caliber handgun into the other’s head. Packing his brother’s body into an old military trunk and burying it, the brother unearthed the box sometime later and transported it to Wyoming. Nobody knows why.

Thirty-two years later, Newell Sessions busted an old, crusty padlock off a box in his shed.

Things were about to get weird.

BONES IN A BOX

When Sessions opened the box, he immediately called then Hot Springs County Sheriff John Lumley. Bones … a gunshot-shattered skull … a rotting cloth grocery bag. Something was afoot, although the skeleton was missing a hand. It didn’t add up.

After an X-ray detected a .25 caliber bullet embedded in the skull, Sheriff Lumley turned the remains over to the Wyoming Crime Lab on March 1, 1992. The lab determined the remains were from a white male, 50s or 60s, around five-foot eight-inches in height. A facial reconstruction was made based on the skull, giving the victim a face. Little else was known.

Sheriff Lumley went to work contacting and interviewing “Gabby,” but dismissed him as a suspect, as the locker, padlock and items inside were dated from sometime between 1930-1950.

Gabby claimed he had picked up the box at a sale either in Oklahoma or Wyoming, but never opened it because he didn’t have the “right tools.”

A BLOODLINE EMERGES

The “Bones Case” remained cold in Hot Springs County for years, although a feature on “Unsolved Mysteries” sent the sheriff’s office plenty of leads to chase. As time went on, technology changed, and Wyoming suddenly had the ability to test DNA.

According to the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office, a DNA sample obtained from an Iowa female, claiming to be the daughter of the deceased, made a positive match on Oct. 19 of this year. The dead man was identified as Joseph Mulvaney, born 1923. His daughter’s story was incredible.

THE MURDER AND THE LINGERING MYSTERY

Mulvaney’s daughter claimed her father was shot and killed by her uncle, and buried in an old trunk. The uncle dug up the trunk when he decided to move, and took it along to Wyoming, where he abandoned the trunk before moving to Mississippi and committing suicide, according to the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office.

There was no mention of the uncle’s name in the official release from the Hot Springs officials, and no indication of whatever became of Newell Sessions’ friend “Gabby.”

The remains of Mulvaney have been returned to the family for burial.

Requests for further information from the Mulvaney family, former Hot Springs County Sheriff John Lumley and the Hot Springs County Sheriff’s Office were not returned at press time.

 
 

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