On June 22, 1982, two men boating on the Missouri River near Williston made a gruesome discovery: a man’s body floating in the river.

The questions those two men must have had — Who was he? How did he die? How did he end up here? — have remained unanswered for 38 years. The Williams County Sheriff’s Office, which handled the initial investigation, hopes that will change.

On Wednesday, June 24, the sheriff’s office put out a request for help identifying the man. The only things police know about the man is he was in his 30s or 40s, was 5-foot-9 or 5-foot-10, weighed about 160s pounds and was fully clothed.

The body had been in the water for three to five days when it was found. Because of decomposition, no cause of death was ever determined.

Police hope some of the distinctive details recorded at the time will help jog people’s memories. He had reddish-brown hair and a full beard, with the upper lip lighter than the chin. The man had jeans and a light shirt on, as well as boot that appeared to be cut down and looked like shoes.

Sheriff's Office seeking help identifying body found 38 years ago in Missouri River in Williston

A composite of several photos related to the man whose body was found in the Missouri River in 1982 shows the tattoos he had, as well as the boots he was wearing when he was found.

He also had three distinctive tattoos. On his right shoulder, he had a tattoo that read “Luv You,” on his right wrist he had one that read “Sex” and on his left ankle he had an image of a fish with the words “Love Sherry” inside.

Sgt. Detective Caleb Fry with the Williams County Sheriff’s Office said he hoped the man could finally be identified, bringing some closure to his family or friends.

“With all the social media sharing and technology, what better time (to try and identify the man?” Fry asked.

Anyone with information about the identity of the man is asked to call the Williams County Sheriff’s Office at 701-577-7700.

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