Authorities seek positive ID on found body

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Preliminary autopsy results indicate natural causes led to thedeath of a man whose body was found last week along Interstate 55and may help confirm the man’s identity, officials say.

Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris said more tests are neededto identify the specific cause of death, but preliminary autopsyresults do rule out the possibility of foul play.

A man’s decomposed body was found Thursday morning byMississippi Department of Transportation employees mowing grass inan area between the interstate and the southbound exit ramp toBrookway Boulevard.

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Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said investigators areconfident they have identified the man as a 60-year-old transientfrom Ohio, but are having difficulty in locating any next of kin.The man’s name was been withheld until the next of kin can benotified.

McMorris said the preliminary results did not indicate how longthe man had been dead before his body was discovered, but didprovide a tantalizing clue that could confirm his identity.

“The autopsy revealed the man had surgery on his ankle at sometime in the past,” the coroner said.

A metal plate had been implanted during the surgery, McMorrissaid. Investigators are hoping the serial and manufacturer lotnumbers can be used to confirm his identity.

“I’m in touch with the company that makes the plates and we’retracking the lot numbers to see where that plate went and where hereceived it,” he said. “We believe we have a name, but the platewill give us positive ID.”

Plates with that lot number were sold to hospitals during 2003and 2004, the coroner said.

Investigators hope medical paperwork filled out at the time ofthe surgery may also lead them to the man’s next of kin, Hendersonsaid.

“We haven’t had any luck at this time on making contact with thenext of kin,” he said.

Authorities here and in Ohio are working to identify familymembers, Henderson said.

The man’s body was discovered at the edge of a small stand oftrees. A rustic campsite, including a small nylon tent, a sleepingbag and a few food items, and a wallet were found among thetrees.

Police used papers found in the wallet to tentatively determinethe man’s identity.

Authorities believe they first made contact with the victim in2002, but he moved frequently and often left Brookhaven forextended periods of time, said Brookhaven Police Detective RogerWilson. The man told officers in the past he had family in southMississippi, but investigators have been unable to locate them.

“He has no ties here that we can find at this time,” Hendersonsaid.