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Human skeleton identified

January 22, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

A farmer working in his cornfield behind Wal-Mart on Garland Groh Boulevard on Wednesday found a human skeleton, Hagerstown Police Sgt. Paul Kifer said Thursday.

Kifer said police were "99 percent sure" that the body is that of Charles Robert Thomas, 43, of Cumberland, Md.

Police went to the cornfield at about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Investigators believe, based on the condition of clothing and level of decomposition, that the body had been in trees near the field for several months, Kifer said.

Thomas disappeared from the IHOP on Garland Groh Boulevard near Wal-Mart in September 2008, Kifer said. Thomas worked at the IHOP with his wife, Kifer said.

Fire officials in Allegany County suspected Thomas was involved in fire there, Kifer said. Around the time that the fire marshal wanted to speak with him, Thomas and his wife had a discussion about him "taking care of whatever needed to be taken care of" on their ride to work, Kifer said.

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Thomas left the IHOP the day of that conversation and was not seen again, Kifer said.

Hagerstown Police on Thursday afternoon spoke with Thomas' wife, who drove back to Cumberland to tell their children about the death, Kifer said.

A forensics team processed the scene and the body was taken to the medical examiner's office in Baltimore for an autopsy, police said.

The cause of death might be difficult to determine because of the condition of the body, Kifer said.

Police said they were treating the death as a homicide, although there are no signs of foul play.

Investigators believe the death will be classified as one of three things: undetermined, natural or suicide, Kifer said.

"We may not be able to determine what happened," he said.

The farmer who found the remains initially contacted the Washington County Sheriff's Department, which sent the case to the city police.

Anyone with information on the case may call Hagerstown Police at 301-790-3700, ext. 234, or e-mail investigators at crimetip@hagerstownpd.org.      

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