NSW Police are offering a $500,000 reward to identify the victim of a "macabre" murder 25 years ago which involved a man's head being dumped in a shopping bag.
WARNING: The following story contains graphic details.
On February 21, 1997, a man and woman stopped at a public rest area on the southern side of the Hume Highway at Penrose, near Marulan, where they noticed a naked body submerged in the Paddy's River.
The victim was weighed down and he had been decapitated at the base of the neck.
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Around the same time, four fishermen located a shopping bag containing a human head in Salt Pan Creek, Padstow.
The head was later confirmed as a match to the remains discovered at Penrose.
The man has never been identified, despite exhaustive inquiries involving law enforcement agencies around the world, and a 1999 coronial inquest found he had been strangled by a person or persons unknown around February 20, 1997.
Dental records suggest he may not have grown up in Australia, but DNA phenotyping showed he was Caucasian, 180 centimetres tall, weighed 86 kilograms and was aged between 30 and 40.
Police still believe the man could be identified by the public and today released a $500,000 reward for information that leads to the identification of him and/or those responsible for his murder.
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Homicide Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said the man had been an "enigma" for 25 years and police wanted to give him an identity.
"By giving him an identity it may help us solve who may have been responsible for this gruesome murder ... the whole circumstances are bizarre and macabre," he said.
"There is someone out there who must know who this person was ...we are appealing not only to people in NSW but interstate and internationally."
Advances in technology have enabled a new profile of the man’s face to be developed, which police have released today.
It is based on a plaster recreation of his face made by a forensic sculptor from the University of Melbourne.
"The technology used in this reconstruction is able to recreate the likeness of what the deceased man would’ve looked like at the time to an incredibly high standard," Detective Superintendent Doherty said.
"We have also issued a photo of a distinct letter 'A' style tattoo found on the man’s upper-right arm in the hope someone may recognise him."
Police have investigated many theories about the meaning of the tattoo, including whether it was a gang, defence force or sporting related, but have found no matches.
Detective Superintendent Doherty said it was "unusual" for a large reward to be offered just to identify a victim but police had exhausted all leads.
"This is a fair incentive to tell us who this person is."