Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
Children find body in barn
Transient may have taken shelter in area
By Shelley Grieshop
The skeletal remains of an unidentified male were found Sunday evening by children playing in a Fort Recovery-area barn.
It's likely the deceased - who is suspected to be an adult - was a transient from out of the area who tried to take shelter inside the barn during the winter months, Darke County Sheriff's Det. Mark Whittaker told The Daily Standard this morning.
The barn is located on a rural wooded lot in the southeast corner of state Routes 49 and 705, about a mile south of Mercer County.
Evidence at the scene indicated the male has been dead for several months, he said.
"We think we might know who he is but are hesitant to say just yet," said Whittaker, who would not rule out the possibility of foul play or suicide until he receives a forensic report.
In October, deputies ousted a homeless man from a barn not far from the location the body was found Sunday, leading investigators to believe it could be the same person. The sheriff's office currently has no open missing persons cases, although some neighboring counties do, he added.
The body and clothing were found early Sunday evening by three children - ages 10 to 12 - who were visiting grandparents living nearby. The youngsters were reportedly playing on hay bales inside the barn when they spotted the grisly remains, Whittaker said. The trio told relatives who called 911 at 7:51 p.m.
The owner of the barn and the abandoned farmhouse on the site is Jesse Stocksdale of the Union City area, who authorities say uses the old building for storing large hay bales. The last time Stocksdale placed hay in the barn was last May or June "and the body definitely wasn't there then," Whittaker said, adding the remains were found in an open area of the barn.
The Darke County coroner was called to the scene Sunday night and the body remained inside the barn until Monday, giving investigators time to gather information, Whittaker said. The body then was taken to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. Local authorities believe a forensic anthropologist will likely be summoned to solve the case.
Whittaker said it could take up to eight weeks before the deceased is identified and a cause of death is released because of the severely deteriorated condition of the body. He said the sheriff's office will release the forensic findings to the public as soon as they are available.
Although the circumstances surrounding the death are somewhat strange, Whittaker doesn't want the public to panic.
"We don't believe there's any threat to public safety," he added.
Anyone who might have seen any unusual activity near or around the barn during the last several months is asked to call the sheriff's office at 937-548-3399.