Three Loudoun County sheriff's investigators were recognized Friday for their efforts in identifying a man whose body was found stuffed into a footlocker that was tossed along a road eight years ago.

A sheriff's deputy on patrol found the body of Jasper F. Watkins on May 14, 1996, dumped near an access point to the Appalachian Trail in western Loudoun. Watkins, 66, had been stuffed into two duffel bags and then into a large black storage trunk.

Initial attempts to identity the body were unsuccessful. Investigators Jamie Koontz, Greg Locke and Bobbie Ochs-man, who were commended by representatives of the Social Security Administration's inspector general's office, pursued the case and identified Watkins in 2003 through fingerprint records recently added to a computerized military databank.

Loudoun sheriff's investigators, working with the Social Security Administration, FBI and U.S. postal inspectors, discovered $89,728 of Watkins's Social Security payments and $10,078 in retirement annuity payments in another person's bank account.

In August 2003, an acquaintance of Watkins was arrested and charged with bank, mail and wire fraud, identity theft and theft of government property. Nancy Jean Siegel, then 55, of Pikesville, Md., was indicted in January on charges of killing Watkins's to prevent anyone from discovering she was using his identity and cashing his checks.

An autopsy revealed that Watkins died of a cervical compression and had cuts and bruises on his neck consistent with manual strangulation. The autopsy also revealed many cuts and abrasions on his body and a blunt-force injury on the back of his head, which occurred before his death. Watkins had toxic levels of sedatives in his body.

Prosecutors said that between 1982 and 2003, Siegel repeatedly used the identity and personal financial information of husbands, friends and acquaintances, including Watkins, to open or convert financial accounts to her own use.

They also said Siegel used Watkins's identity to obtain credit based on fraudulent information and persuaded Watkins to finance and sell his home to pay her credit debts and to give her money.

Siegel is in federal custody.

-- LESLIE SHEPHERD