MOUND HOUSE - A decomposing body found in Mound House was identified Wednesday as a one-time Nevada legislative lobbyist who claimed to represent space aliens and campaigned for Southern Nevada's "Extraterrestrial Highway."
The body of David Venus Solomon, 52, a self-proclaimed alien known as Ambassador Merlyn Merlin II, was found Friday afternoon by the Carson River on Kit Kat Road, said Lyon County Sheriff's Department investigator Cherie Rye.
According to the Washoe County Coroner's Office, identification was made by fingerprints. Deputy Coroner Steve Finnell said the cause of death was undetermined.
"The skull was intact and there were no signs of trauma from what we could tell," he said.
Finnell estimated the body had been there a "at least a month, probably more just by the state of the remains."
Investigators were unable to locate the car in which Solomon lived, a 1976 brown and white Monte Carlo.
Friend Pat Travis, owner of the Little A'le'Inn in Rachel, Nev., said the man she knew as Merlin never went anywhere without his car. She found the report of the missing vehicle interesting.
"You know, he kept quite a bit of silver dollars in his trunk," she said. "He always had a lot of money in his trunk."
Travis said she hadn't seen Merlin in a few years and described him as a "different kind of character."
"But it's sad - a mother misses her baby. I don't care how different he was," she said.
Travis and Merlin met during the campaign to have State Route 375's name changed to "The Extraterrestrial Highway." Rachel is the only community along the route.
In Carson City, Merlin was a well-known character at the Legislature from 1995 until 1999, when he was barred from the grounds. During the 1999 session, a female employee cleaning a restroom in the Nevada Legislature reported Merlin had exposed himself to her.
Assemblyman Robert Price, D-Las Vegas, a friend of Merlin's, said the incident was blown out of proportion. Price said Merlin had gone into the bathroom when a cleaning sign was posted, but when he didn't see anyone in the bathroom he used the facilities.
"She was kind of a surprise to him. He didn't realize that anyone was in the stall," Price said.
Price said although Merlin was an unusual person, he was very intelligent.
"Merlin was a very smart young man, an extremely, smart young man. But yes, he was a little weird," Price said.
He said during the last legislative session, he had gotten approval for Merlin to come back onto the grounds. "I just never got around to telling him."
Price said he had known Merlin since 1989 and believed his family was somewhere in Laguna Niguel or Dunsmuir, Calif.
"I think his dad is a doctor and his mom is an attorney. I know they were both professional people," Price said. Attempts to contact his family were unsuccessful.
He said Merlin's living in his car was "just his thing."
"If you ever saw his car, it was completely full of clothes, goodies and so forth," Price said.
Price said he last spoke with Merlin at the end of the legislative session in June.
"I am very sad. My wife, too. When I told her, she was shocked," Price said.
Photojournalist and military technical writer Mark Farmer, of Juneau, Alaska, met Merlin in 1993 at Area 51-related events.
Farmer said Merlin was definitely a strange fellow.
"It was hard to figure out whether he was playing a game or there was something organically wrong," Farmer said. He described Merlin as "a crazy guy who was on the fringes" of the UFO hullabaloo.
Farmer believed Merlin had been a mathematics professor.
"I thought in his past he had been a straight guy and had snapped at some point," he said. "One thing you have to give him though," Farmer said. "He really believed his schtick."
Price said Merlin, who claimed to represent the Embassy of the Avalon Saucerians, was featured on numerous national television shows, including Larry King. Merlin is also referenced on a number of Web sites and in a book by David Darlington called "Area 51: Dreamland Chronicles."
In the chronicles, Darlington recounts the premier of the movie "Independence Day" in Rachel. After the premier, Darlington told of Merlin's tenacity:
"As the rest of the audience politely dispersed, (Merlin) made his way to the front of the theater, where he tried to buttonhole Jeff Goldblum, one of the film's attending stars.
"'I gotta go,' Goldblum insisted, but Merlyn managed to press a piece of paper into the actor's hand, urging him to heed its message.
"'Message?' Goldblum said. 'What kind of message?'
"He unfolded the paper, which announced that 'tourists from Alpha Centauri' would land on Nevada's Extraterrestrial Highway in approximately three years," Darlington wrote.
Phil Carter, owner of the Stage Saloon at Kit Kat Road and Highway 50 East, said he believed Merlin had been living near there for a number of years.
"He used to come in here to use the pay phone, never speaking to anyone," Carter said.
A patron of the Stage Saloon, identified only as Mike, said he worked at a wrecking yard near where Merlin parked his car and would see him every day leaving in the morning and returning at dusk. He said Merlin normally parked his car about 100 to 150 yards from where his body was found.
"The last time I saw him was about a month and a half ago when I saw his car go down into the canyon," Mike said.
"He was a really strange guy, pretty far out there," Mike said.