Authorities are awaiting autopsy and test results on a badly decomposed body found in the woods of southern McDuffie County Saturday afternoon. Hunters discovered the body several feet beyond the tree line on Story-Randal Road around 1:30 p.m., said McDuffie County Coroner Rhusha Mack.
Agent Gary Hughes of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Thomson office said the remains could possibly be connected to a local missing person case. He said some clothing found with the body led investigators to inquire about a particular case with the family of a missing person.
"We are consulting with a local family and do have some evidence to believe that it is possibly that person, but that's still real early to tell just based on what limited amount of evidence we were able to collect," Agent Hughes said.
He said no positive connection had been made, but dental records and other medical analysis from the GBI crime lab in Atlanta should help in identifying the body. The autopsy was performed Monday, but no time table on additional tests was available, according to Agent Hughes.
"We would like these things to be as quick as possible, but it doesn't always work that way," Agent Hughes said. "We are looking to see if there's any way to confirm that it either is this person or rule that person out and determine who it is."
Mr. Mack said there was no way to know exactly how long the body had been there or whether foul play was involved yet. He said the autopsy may help in estimating time of death, but with so many factors involved, it could be a nearly impossible task.
"You've got to take a lot of things into consideration, too," he said. "We're in Georgia, in the heat. Then it's been raining, too."
McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshal said the body "appeared it had been there for some time. I would just say at least two or three months."
Initially, authorities were unable to determine the gender, ethnicity or approximate age of the person. Mr. Mack said an anthropologist, who is a bone specialist, with the GBI's crime lab will be inspecting the remains to help determine those answers.
Along with the Coroner's Office, the GBI and the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department are assisting in the investigation.