JACKSON COUNTY, MO (KCTV) -- In May 2004, a human leg washed ashore along the Missouri River in Callaway County. The following day a torso, later determined to match the leg, washed up in Moniteau County.
Not until July 2015 did authorities have any idea that those body parts belonged to Ryon McDonald.
July 10, 2019, 63-year-old Michael Gullett pleaded guilty to the 2nd degree murder in connection with McDonald's homicide in 2004 in a homeless camp in Kansas City.
As part of a plea agreement, Gullett was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He is already serving time for a 2012 murder conviction.
The McDonald murder in 2004 was unsolved until 2015, when the victim's brother noticed on the internet photos of a distinctive tattoo he recognized as belonging to Ryon McDonald.
The Missouri Highway Patrol had placed it on its website of missing persons. DNA had matched the leg and torso in 2004.
After the victim's brother saw the tattoos, further testing indicated that there was a, "high probability" that the body parts belonged to McDonald.
Criminal investigators for the Missouri Highway Patrol found witnesses who said that in 2004, the victim and the defendant had been in an argument. One stated the defendant picked up a piece of wood and hit the victim in the head with it.
Another told the Highway Patrol that the defendant told him that the victim, "ain't ever coming back. I hit him in the head, cut him up with an axe and threw him in the river."