01/10/08 — No word yet on identity of body found near church

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No word yet on identity of body found near church

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on January 10, 2008 2:04 PM

Authorities are still hoping to solve the mystery behind an unidentified skeleton found in November on the property of a Goldsboro city councilman.

Detectives slogged through mud in waders as they logged bone fragments from a ditch behind Fellowship Baptist Church off Arrington Bridge Road that month.

Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said this week that turning the remains over to the state Medical Examiner's office has produced at least some leads.

"I will say this: The remains appear to be someone late in age, probably in excess of 55 to 60 years old," Effler said.

The person also had suffered some sort of major injury, but the injury almost certainly had nothing to do with the male's eventual death, the captain said.

"He had extensive facial injury on the left-hand side of his face -- prior to this, not because of this," Effler said. "Like he may have been involved in an accident."

Sheriff Carey Winders said that other than the body being that of a black man, few clues have turned up.

"We're beginning to wonder whether this is a homeless type person or whatever," the sheriff said. "His friends, no family connections around, anybody that's got anybody that's missing that they haven't seen" have not turned up.

No one has reported a vacant house or other indicator that a person might have gone missing either, the sheriff said.

"That's unusual that when you've got a body that's been missing and nobody turns up to claim it," Winders said.

The sheriff said indicators such as stacked up newspapers or mail or abandoned belongings usually cause people to notify authorities of a missing person.

Effler said traditional methods to identify the remains have failed, and the medical examiner's office is using other techniques of studying the bones.

The captain said he did not want to say exactly how long the body had been in the ditch behind Fellowship Baptist Church, but said "he's been there a while."

When detectives first began investigating, some speculated that the remains could have been from a Civil War battle.

That theory has since been proven false, Effler said, and the Sheriff's Office must now ponder whether the man had simply wandered into the field.

"Like I say, we're asking for the public's help," Effler said. "If they can identify the person, (they should) feel free to contact the Sheriff's Office."