On May 25, 2015, close friends reported 54-year-old Paciano Lopez-Morales, also known as “Shorty”, missing from Hilton Head Island. His last known address was on Bluebell Lane on Hilton Head Island. Friends reported that he was staying in a makeshift room on the front porch of the Bluebell Lane home but moved out on or around May 20, 2015. His only known family resided in Mexico at that time.
Lopez-Morales did not have any known diagnosed medical conditions and there was no reason to believe that he was a danger to himself or others. He complained of his ears hurting shortly before he went missing. Family members in Mexico had also lost contact with him around the same time he was reported missing.
On December 24, 2016, a Hilton Head Island resident contacted the Sheriff’s Office to report that he found a human skull in a wooded area near Spanish Wells Road while clearing debris left over from Hurricane Matthew. A search of the area by investigators resulted in the recovery of a nearly complete human skeleton. Personal items located near the remains were connected to Paciano Lopez-Morales.
Through an osteological examination, it was determined that the remains were most likely of a person of Hispanic ancestry. There were no signs or evidence of trauma found during the examination and the cause and manner of death both remain undetermined.
The FBI assisted the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office in obtaining a familial DNA standard from a blood relative of Lopez-Morales who was residing in Mexico at the time. DNA analysis confirmed that the remains discovered on December 24, 2016, were those of Paciano Lopez-Morales.
The Beaufort County Coroner’s Office has attempted to locate family members of Paciano Lopez-Morales so that his remains may be returned to his family. Beaufort County Coroner David Ott is seeking any information that the public may have regarding familial contact information for Paciano’s family.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Beaufort County Coroner’s Office at 843-255-5150 or 843-255-5153.