Authorities determine transient’s ID

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2006

A surgical plate has allowed investigators to positivelyidentify the decomposed body of a transient found alongsideInterstate 55 earlier this month, authorities said.

Lincoln County Coroner Clay McMorris said the man has beenidentified as 60-year-old Gary L. Humphrey, whose last knownaddress was a homeless shelter in Jackson.

“He was identified from a surgical plate in his leg,” McMorrissaid.

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The plate was discovered during a preliminary autopsy thatdetermined Humphrey died from natural causes. Investigators arestill waiting on test results to determine the specific cause ofdeath, the coroner said.

McMorris said he used serial and lot numbers on the surgicalplate to trace it to the manufacturer, who helped him track it toUniversity of Mississippi Medical Center.

“It was sold to the hospital in 2003 or 2004. The surgeryoccurred sometime in 2004,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a long shottracking these back, but this time we had good leads from themanufacturers.”

Humphrey was living at a homeless shelter in Jackson at the timeof the surgery, McMorris said. He lived in and out of the shelterfrom 2003 to 2005.

Investigators have not determined where the man took upresidence since leaving the shelter, but Brookhaven police officershave said they first made contact with him around 2002.

He would stay in Brookhaven for only a short time before movingon and returning at a later date, said Detective Roger Wilson.

Police have suspected the body was Humphrey since it was foundby Mississippi Department of Transportation employees mowing grassJune 8 in a small wooded area between Interstate 55 and thesouthbound off ramp to Brookway Boulevard. However, officers wereawaiting positive identification and notification of next of kin torelease the man’s name.

Efforts to identify Humphrey’s family members by authorities inMississippi and Ohio, where he once told officers he lived, wereunsuccessful, McMorris said.

“We have found no family,” he said. “We don’t know where he camefrom. We think he drifted here from Jackson shortly before hisdeath.”