Body found in W.Va.

July 10, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Skeletal remains found Tuesday night in a Johnstown, W.Va., attic, are believed to be those of a Maryland man wanted on two felony warrants in Baltimore County, according to West Virginia State Police.

Senior Trooper Dean Olack said he did not know what charges were on the warrants.

Olack would not release the man's name, saying the remains have not been positively identified.

The remains were taken to the state medical examiner's office in Morgantown, W.Va., for further examination, Olack said.

Olack said authorities have been hampered in identifying the body because it was badly decomposed.

In such cases, bodies frequently can be identified through dental records. But the only dental records available for the Baltimore County man were X-rays taken when he was a boy, Olack said.

The house where the body was found has been vacant for several years, Olack said.

A neighbor was cleaning out the building for a real estate agent when he stumbled onto the remains, Olack said.


Authorities did not know how long the body had been in the attic, he said.

The remains were clothed in two pairs of pants, five shirts and an Army coat, leading police to believe the weather was cold during the period when the man was in the unheated home, Olack said.

Investigators believe the man died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound, Olack said. A shotgun was found on top of the body, he said.

There was no sign of foul play, said Sgt. J.A. Humphrey.

Police have contacted the parents of the Maryland man. His father lives in Baltimore and his mother lives in the Hedgesville, W.Va., area, Olack said.

Olack said it is unknown how long the man had been living in the house. The police searched for the man in 1996 on the arrest warrants.

The attic room where the body was found is little more than a crawl space with a four-foot high ceiling, and was filled with insects and rodents, Olack said.

Most of the attic is accessible from a small door in the bathroom, but the section where the man was located was walled off years ago and accessible only through a vent opening reached by climbing onto the roof, Olack said.

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