GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Skeletal remains were discovered Sunday in a wooded area north of M-6 and Eastern Avenue SE, near the Fred Meijer M-6 Trail.
Silent Observer received a tip about the remains Sunday afternoon around 3:45 p.m., which lead investigators to the area just north of M-6 and west of Eastern Avenue SE, according to a release from the Kent County Sheriff's Department.
Investigators said Monday that autopsy results revealed the remains are those of a man believed to be between 30 and 40-years-old. A cause of death has yet to determined.
“It doesn’t look like there’s any obvious signs of trauma, which means it probably wasn’t blunt force, probably wasn’t gunshot, at least anything that hit the skeletal structure," said Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young. "What they have to do from here is take tissue samples and send them for toxicology reports, which takes several weeks.”
LaJoye-Young told FOX 17 that investigators continue to work their biggest lead: a Speedy Rewards Card found on the body. According to records, LaJoye-Young said the card was last used this June or July. Now investigators are determining whether this card belonged to this man.
“There was a little bit of a tattoo that was evident, and he had a Speedy Rewards Card that was on his person, that we’re going to track down and try to use that for identification, or at least to give us a lead," said LaJoye-Young.
Back in May, Karen Barnes said she was walking with a co-worker along the Fred Meijer M-6 Trail. She told FOX 17 she smelled a horrible stench.
"Just like any other day we came down here, we went past the overpass and we went down the bike trail, and just as we were getting past the bridge, we started smelling something," said Barnes. “I’ve never smelled anything that strong before, it was pretty bad though.”
Barnes said they believed it was a dead animal and continued on their way.
“You could tell something definitely was rotting, I didn’t know exactly what it was, we didn’t go looking for anything because we were on a mission to get done with our mile walk/run," said Barnes.
LaJoye-Young said investigators are not positive how long the body laid there, but said it was there for "some time."
Police do not consider this anonymous tip to be suspicious, LaJoye-Young said, because there is a list of reasons why someone would call Silent Observer.
“It’s really not a good idea for us to make assumptions that the person who called it in through that mechanism is suspicious in any way," said LaJoye-Young. "It’s simply another tool to get ahold of law enforcement, we’re very thankful it’s there, it is very useful for us in situations like this, because that party might not have called it in at all.”
If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact the Kent County Sheriff Department at (616) 632-6100, or Silent Observer at (616) 774-2345.
Editor's note: The original story indicated the remains were found on the south side of M-6, according to police. A later clarification from police indicates the remains were actually found on the north of M-6.