Police identify remains found at construction site

Providence police released this high school photo of Phillip Seals, whose remains were found at a construction site.

Providence police said Thursday that they have opened a homicide investigation into the death of a man whose skeletal remains were found at a construction site.

Police said they had some leads in the killing of Phillip Seals, who was identified by using DNA that was compared with relatives.

Investigators said Seals was born in 1936 and that he was about 45 years old when he died. They said there was no visible trauma to his body that might point to a violent death.

Police said he did not have an extensive criminal record in Rhode Island, but they would not elaborate.

"We have enough leads to keep us running with it. There will be a lot of people surprised when we come knocking on their door after 25 or 30 years, believe me," Maj. David Lapatin said.

Investigators said Seals graduated from high school in Charleston, West Virginia, in 1953, served in the Air Force and lived in Providence from 1976 to at least 1982.

Construction crews were tearing up the basement of an old textile building on Prairie Avenue on July 24 when they discovered a skull and other bones. The remains were at the bottom of what used to be an elevator shaft.

The building was built in 1917, but underwent renovations in the 1970s and '80s.

"Right now, there is no connection to the building that he was in," Lapatin said.

Workers also found a 1980s identification card from Rhode Island Hospital, a jacket with a fur collar, cigarettes and a bullet.

Providence police asked anyone who knew Seals, even briefly, to contact Detective Emilio Matos at 401-243-6306.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.