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Pa. man's cause of death remains unknown

August 24, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Police, crime specialists and district attorneys met for several hours Wednesday to coordinate a regional investigation into the death of Carl W. Ryder, whose badly decomposed body was found in the woods approximately 25 miles from his Amberson, Pa., home on Aug. 16.

The woman who found the body knew the 43-year-old Ryder and had been searching for the source of an odor described by her uncle who was riding a motorcycle in the area, Huntingdon County (Pa.) District Attorney Robert Stewart said.

"The pathologist was not able to arrive at a cause of death," Stewart said. He thinks pathology will not be able to pinpoint when Ryder died, so police will have to use extrinsic evidence to create a window of time.

Several items, which Stewart would not characterize, are being sent to a Pennsylvania State Police Crime Lab in Harrisburg, Pa., to be analyzed. The results will direct the investigative plan, he said.

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Stewart would not specify how Scott Nathan North, 26, of Fannettsburg, Pa., is being viewed in connection with Ryder's death. On Aug. 2, North escaped from a Franklin County Prison work-release assignment. He was caught eight days later driving Ryder's car.

North has been scheduled for a preliminary hearing Aug. 31 before a magisterial district judge in Huntingdon County on charges of resisting arrest, fleeing or eluding police, false identification, driving with a suspended license, speeding, reckless driving and flight to avoid apprehension. He has been charged with escape in Franklin County.

Police said last week that North told them he had hitchhiked from the work-release assignment to the 16922 Drifted Lane home of Ryder, who is believed to have once employed North in his fencing business. North said Ryder had allowed him to use his car, credit card and home while he was in North Carolina, according to police.

State police troopers began looking for Ryder, who had not been seen since about Aug. 6, once they found North with his car.

"Other investigative leads are being pursued," Stewart said. However, he said area residents don't have cause to be "unduly apprehensive" about a killer on the loose.

A forensics team from Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., that specializes in anthropology excavated the crime scene, used a global positioning system to map findings and took Ryder's remains to the school.

Stewart, who was not at the crime scene for the discovery but saw photographs, said Ryder did not have possessions with him. The body was found in a right of way for a pipeline along Allison Road in Tell Township, according to Stewart.

"(The woman) decided to look after she had been driving around," Stewart said.

"We have not found someone like this in at least 14 years," Stewart said.

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