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Lake Mead human remains give hope to Tennessee family in search for father’s killer

Christopher Huffman.jpg
Christopher Huffman - LVMPD cold case entry
Posted at 1:38 PM, May 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-17 16:38:04-04

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A murder mystery more than 1,000 miles away could bring answers to a Tennessee woman hoping to track down her father’s killer nearly 30 years later.

Christine Huffman has been on close watch for any new information after human remains were discovered in Nevada’s Lake Mead earlier this month.

She said family and friends continue to send her articles, hoping there may be a connection to when her father’s body was pulled from Lake Mead in 1994.

“It was one of the first and only things I knew about him for a very long time,” Huffman said.

FULL COVERAGE: Decades-old barrel with human remains washes up on shore of Lake Mead

She was 9-years old when she first learned of her biological father and namesake, Christopher Huffman. She was born 11 days after his body was discovered in the lake, which means she relies almost entirely on the memories of others.

Huffman only has so many photos of her father, but there’s no doubting her resemblance and the resemblance of her kids to the man they never met.

“It’s almost haunting. It’s like looking in a time capsule and wondering what he could have been, had he had time to grow and change,” Huffman said.

She was always told her father lived a troubled life. He grew up in Henderson and worked at Las Vegas casinos. She said one day he called the family to say he was in trouble and had to leave town. It was the last time they heard his voice.

As the story goes, a pair of fishermen spotted a metal trash can floating in Lake Mead the next day. Attached to it was a long cord and on the other end was 24-year-old Christopher Huffman’s body.

A police report from that day stated Christopher's body had multiple gunshot wounds. When a local newspaper ran an article, the focus quickly shifted to his rap sheet and any possible criminal activity that could explain his fate.

There was mention of his jobs working at the casinos, which only made a connection to organized crime more likely, in his daughter's mind.

“Not even a single word of his children,” Christine Huffman said.

It wasn’t until 2019 that Huffman said she realized Las Vegas Metropolitan Police did not have a photo of her father on their cold case website.

The page was finally updated, but the chosen photo was an old mugshot, and even his age at the time of death was wrong.

Christopher Huffman - LVMPD cold case entry
It wasn’t until 2019 that Christine Huffman said she realized Las Vegas Metropolitan Police did not have a photo of her father on their cold case website.

“Like he was a worthless criminal who didn’t deserve any answers for his family. It’s not right," Huffman said. "It’s not right that they just didn’t care about every person they find at the bottom of that lake. Nobody cared. Nobody was looking for them, and nobody wanted answers for their family."

As leads dried up, so did the very place this all began. The lake evaporates as rising temperatures send water levels plummeting to the lowest they’ve been in nearly a century. It turns out Mother Nature may have been the detective Huffman needed all along.

A barrel washed up on shore just weeks ago with human remains inside. Investigators said the victim was shot sometime around the 1980s, before their body was dumped. About a week later, a pair of sisters found more bones on a sandbar at the lake.

“If the water level had not receded, we would never have found the person in the lake,” said Lt. Ray Spencer of LVMPD.

MORE: Lowering water levels at Lake Mead could lead to new discoveries

Huffman questions whether more could have been done sooner to find these remains that have only just surfaced. Her father’s body was discovered more than 10 years after this other barrel may have been dumped in the lake.

There’s no indication that police or the National Park Service will dive into the lake to find any more bodies, even though they acknowledged there could be more out there.

If this is the criminal dumping ground it’s been rumored to be for years, Huffman hopes investigators get more answers for the victims and not make this about what the victims did to get there.

“I’ve come to terms with the idea that my father’s killer is probably not even out there anymore. If he is, he’s never going to be caught, and that’s OK," Huffman said. "My concern is about every criminal who has been killed, went missing, and was never found. I care about those cases and them paying attention and giving answers to those who deserve them."

Police told us that, “no case is forgotten. When new evidence or new tips are learned by detectives, they follow up in hopes to bring closure to family members. When new technology becomes available, detectives take [a look] to see if they can use this technology on the current case.”

So far, they have not found a connection between Christopher Huffman and the most recent remains. They said that, while the remains found in the barrel showed signs of foul play, there were no such signs on the second set of remains found a week later. Investigators are working on a cause of death for the second victim, but said they can’t rule out drowning.

LVMPD went on to say that they will not speculate on any connection between these deaths and any organized crime.

Anyone with any information about these cases is urged to contact the LVMPD Homicide Section by phone at 702-828-3521, or by email at homicide@lvmpd.com. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 702-385-5555, or online at crimestoppersofnv.com.