Body found in East campus

Police are investigating the death of a man found lying in a yard.
Sunday, June 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:20 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Police are investigating the death of a young man found Saturday afternoon lying in the yard between two houses in the East Campus neighborhood. He was wearing only a pair of blue boxers, and a photograph taken by police showed wounds to his throat.

The body, which was clearly visible from the street, was found at 1517 Wilson Ave. Residents across the street expressed disbelief.

“It was a shock. It was the last thing I expected to see,” said Megan Spurgeon, 22. “As soon as we saw (the body), we freaked out and left.”

Police at press time had not yet identified the man but were “getting close,” Sgt. Lloyd Simons said.

Pete McDermott, 19, was one of several neighbors who first saw the body at about 2 p.m. Matt Finucane, 22, whose window faced the area where the body was lying, saw McDermott and his friends gathered outside. Finucane called the police when he learned of the body.

Police were dispatched to the scene at 2:09 p.m. After cordoning off the area, they went from house to house showing people a photograph of the victim, a white man who police said appeared to be in his early 20s.

The photograph showed the dark-haired man with his eyes slightly open, his head cocked to one side and dried blood caked on his eyes, nose and mouth. Above his bare chest, his throat was covered in blood.

“His neck was messed up, and it looked like he choked up blood,” McDermott said.

He said that the man appeared to be the age of a college student, and he had bruises on his throat. McDermott’s roommates, Dan Childress, 20, and Andy Milsack, 20, agreed, and said it looked to them as if the death was the result of either suicide or murder.

Police Saturday night were still calling the case a “death investigation” and were waiting to hear from Medical Examiner Valerie Rao about the cause of death. The autopsy was preliminarily scheduled for Saturday night, though East District Commander Zim Schwartze said it was uncertain whether it would take place that soon.

Police did not know how long the body had been in the yard or if the man was from the area.

“Any time there is a death investigation, we always look into the possibility of foul play,” Schwartze said. “We make sure we gather enough evidence in case it does turn out to be a homicide.”

Police were combing the corner of Williams Street and Wilson in search of evidence.

“We look for anything near the body, anything associated with the body, anything that we feel, know or believe to be involved somehow,” Schwartze said.

Capt. Mike Martin, investigative commander for the police department, said detectives were treating the area as if it were a crime scene. “We don’t know for sure,” he said. “It could be a number of things.”

Paige Hammerschmidt, who lives in a house near where the body was found, said she was surprised this would happen in her neighborhood. “It’s just a bunch of college kids in this area,” she said. “I’m still freaked out.”

Asked if police felt the need to alert the community of any danger, Schwartze said no. “We don’t have any indication of a danger right now.”

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