The man whose limbs were found burning in a barrel in Bridgewater last week was a 24-year-old father with a long criminal record of assaults and theft.
No cause of death has been determined for Dennis Ray Jackson, whose remains were found on the Correction Department grounds around 8 p.m. on Nov. 13. The Plymouth district attorney’s office released Jackson’s name Wednesday night and said the identification was made through fingerprints.
Police are investigating whether a burnt torso found early on Nov. 14 in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston also belonged to Jackson. Investigators believe the torso was Jackson’s but are awaiting DNA results to confirm the theory.
“The medical examiner will determine if there is a connection between the two using DNA,” said Bridget Norton Middleton, a spokeswoman for the Plymouth district attorney’s office.
The grisly discoveries have led to a mystery deepened by another complication: Police have not found Jackson’s head, according to two law enforcement officials briefed on the case.
None of Jackson’s family members could be reached for comment Wednesday.
A Trenton, N.J., woman trying to raise money for his funeral identified herself as his sister on a fund-raising website.
“Dennis Ray Jackson life [sic] was cut short,” she wrote. “His remains were found scattered in Boston. . . . He leaves behind three children, his mother, father, and sisters. Please help the family in this time of need.”
Law enforcement officials have not named a suspect in the case, but last week, police in Salisbury joined detectives from the State Police and Boston police in searching a recently rented house in the beach community.
Salisbury Police Chief Thomas W. Fowler confirmed that a search had taken place at 19 Liberty St., a mile south of New Hampshire. He referred further questions to the Essex district attorney’s office.
The Salisbury search was related to the investigation into Jackson’s death, said two law enforcement officials briefed on the inquiry. Some evidence was collected from the scene, the officials said, but it remained unclear where he died.
Jackson, who was born in Worcester, went by the nickname “Niko” and said he worked as a roofer, according to records at Newburyport District Court, which listed a long history of arrests for assaults and theft north of Boston.
Jackson’s most recent case was in July, when he was charged with stealing a car after he extorted someone who owed him $200 for cocaine, police said.
He forced the debtor to give him a $40,000 BMW as collateral, police said. The case was still open at the time of Jackson’s death.
Jackson, who was 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds, listed addresses in Hampton, N.H., Amesbury, and Haverhill, according to court and driving records.
He grew up in Worcester, where a former neighbor who knew the family when Jackson was young described him as a thoughtful, well-behaved boy.
“He would come ring my doorbell before he would run into the yard to get a ball,” recalled Janet Bolivar, 48, who said Jackson lived with three sisters and his single mother on Merrifield Street. The family moved away about 10 years ago, she said.
By the time he was 13, Jackson was already getting into trouble with the law, according to court records.
He was arrested for shoplifting in 2003 and picked up for disorderly conduct in 2004. Soon, he was being arrested for more serious crimes. In 2006, when he was 16 years old, he was arrested on charges of armed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, a metal pipe.
In 2008, he was arrested on charges of assault and battery on a police officer and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
His father took out a restraining order against him in 2009. That same year, his former girlfriend, and the mother of two of his children, accused him of physical and verbal abuse.
In December, she went to Amesbury police and reported that on several occasions Jackson had hit her and even tried to strangle her.
Jackson was sentenced to 18 months in jail for three counts of domestic assault and battery. He began his sentence in April 2011, but it was unclear when he was released.