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Body recovered from Chambersburg stream

autopsy could provide clues to person's I.D.

September 28, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH | waynesboro@herald-mail.com
  • Men hoist a body, covered by a body bag lying on a tarp, from the stream off Commerce Street at 8:15 p.m. Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said crews were racing to secure the body before a predicted storm hit.
By Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — A body was pulled from a stream in the Borough of Chambersburg on Wednesday night nearly 12 hours after a business owner found it partially submerged and ensnared in branches.

Lightning flashed in the distance as men hoisted the body, covered by a body bag lying on a tarp, from the stream off Commerce Street at 8:15 p.m.

Franklin County (Pa.) Coroner Jeffrey R. Conner said crews were racing to secure the body before a predicted storm hit.

Conner said he hoped items removed from the scene and an autopsy scheduled for Friday would provide clues to the person's identity.

The decayed body had been in the stream for at least several weeks, Conner said.

He would not speculate on the person's gender.

"We are now going to transport the body to the Chambersburg Hospital, where the morgue, myself and the police department are going to try to identify the remains," Conner said.

A woman who identified herself as the affected property's owner said her husband was cleaning debris from a culvert when he saw what he thought was a mattress. He then realized what it was and alerted authorities between 9 and 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The stream, which neighbors said fills rapidly during storms, borders a storage-unit business near the intersection of Commerce and Hood streets. The neighbors said the culvert where the body was stuck had a metal grate covering it.

Wetsuits could be seen hanging to dry at the scene late Wednesday afternoon. Crews formed an assembly-line chain to remove mud from the ditch in gray buckets.

Conner initially said that the Chambersburg Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police do not have any active missing person reports, but later said he learned of one open case. He did not elaborate on that case.

The stream feeds from the Hamilton Heights area and was about a foot deep when Conner arrived. He described the body as being obscured from view and said it could've easily remained that way for some time.

"Even at ground level ... I still couldn't see it," he said.

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