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The Justice Files: Legs found in 1985 identified

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OGDEN, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – The mystery over human legs found in the Ogden River is solved.

Police confirmed those legs found in 1985 belong to a woman who disappeared at the time.

“We were able to identify the toenails belonging to the legs discovered in 1985 in the Ogden River as being the legs of Savanna Hoskins,” said Lt. Brian Eynon with the police department’s major crimes unit.

In 1985, Hoskins who was married and a mother of five disappeared. Eleven days later, two human legs were found in the river.

“She was dismembered,” said Karra Porter with the Utah Cold Case Coalition. “And the only two parts of the body that were left were in the Ogden River.”

At the time, authorities assumed the legs belonged to Hoskins but could never confirm it. And despite searching the Ogden River, police never found the rest of the body.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her,” said Joe Hoskins who is the second youngest of five children. “Always, every day.”

Hoskins was only 4 years old when his family came apart. In 1989, his father, Joe Hoskins Jr., was sentenced to prison for drug dealing. He later died.

The siblings were raised by their grandmother.

“She did everything that she could for us,” said Hoskins. “She raised me and my little brother like awesome. I’m a good person and basically learned everything from my grandma.”

But he said it is concerning now that his mother has been identified. He still is skeptical that she was murdered.

“That she is missing, yes,” said Hoskins. “I don’t want to put a stamp on it that she was murdered or whatever. But it’s been all these long years and that something’s happened.”

Lt. Eynon said a detective re-opened the case and found the toenail in the file of evidence. He said she submitted the toenail to the state crime lab in hopes of discovering DNA. He said a family member of Hoskins also submitted DNA to compare it with.

“We believe those legs belong to Savannah Hoskins,” said Lt. Eynon.

He said a tip, led police to an area east of Pineview Reservoir where the rest of her body could be buried.

“We sent a cadaver dog to the area,” he said. “We checked that area for any human remains and it came back with negative results. We didn’t find anything.”

But who murdered her still remains unsolved. The Utah Cold Case Coalition has also been investigating the case.

“Her husband Joe Hoskins was either involved in or present at her death,” said Porter.

Lt. Eynon said a detective scanned old police files to the case and found a clue. There was evidence found in the Hoskins home which is now a vacant lot.

Asked if her husband is the primary suspect, Lt. Eynon didn’t hesitate.

“Yes,” he said. “No one else at this time. No, it’s him.”

The couple’s son doesn’t believe his own son would have murdered their mother. But he still wants closure to this 34-year-old mystery.

“It would mean a lot if they were able to find her,” said Hoskins. “It would mean a lot if they were able to put the case to a closure.”

Lt. Eynon said they hope to have answers for the family very soon.

“I do feel confident that Detective (Rachel) Walker has taken this investigation to where it should be,” said the lieutenant.

Meanwhile, the Utah Cold Case Coalition is also offering a $6,000 reward to anyone who can lead them to Hoskins’ body.

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