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WATERBURY, Conn.— Despite a simmering controversy, researchers are finalizing plans to exhume the body of the 19th-century enigma known as the Leather Man.

A team of experts led by Connecticut State Archaeologist Nicholas F. Bellantoni expects to break ground next month on the project. They believe the remains may yield valuable clues into the vagabond’s identity, which has been shrouded in mystery due to his taciturn demeanor and nomadic lifestyle.

According to research compiled by Dan W. DeLuca, author of “The Leather Man: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend,” the Leather Man was a homeless wanderer who trekked a 360-mile loop between the Hudson and Connecticut rivers every 34 days between 1883 and 1889. He slept in caves, wore a 60 ­pound, hand-stitched leather suit made from scraps collected along his journey and spoke little. Read more.