Landlord finds partially mummified body in closet - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/4/07-Evansville, Indiana

Landlord finds partially mummified body in closet

Story and video Provided By: WFIE Raycom Media

Update, Wed 8:15 pm: New information in the case of a body found in a vacant apartment.

The coroner's office is trying to identify the man whose decaying body was discovered by the landlord at an Evansville, Indiana apartment complex.

The coroner's office spent Wednesday evening performing an extensive autopsy on the man who's now believed to have been in his mid 20s and probably not Hispanic as was first believed. Beyond that, who he is and how he died are still a mystery.

It was the surprise of his life when the landlord at Blakeridge Apartments walked into a vacant unit to prepare it for rental after several months of being unoccupied.

Steve Robertson, landlord, describes, "[I] walked into the bedroom and saw a hand hanging out of the closet on the floor, and it looked to be a bluish color."

As Robertson edged closer, what he at first thought to be a practical joke quickly became gruesomely real. "I kinda looked, and it didn't look like he was asleep based on his hand. His hand was blue, kinda shriveled up, and I knew something was wrong, so I exited the apartment and called 9-1-1."

Police don't believe the man was the victim of foul play, and the landlord says, he believes, it may have been a vagrant looking for a place to sleep who came in through an open window. "It looks like the guy, like I say, it looks to me like the guy laid down and never woke back up."

Vanderburgh County Coroner Don Erk says, "I can tell you, from the way the body has decomposed, it has been in excess of a week and could be several weeks."

The coroner's office faces a unique challenge in trying to identify the victim and how he died. X-rays didn't reveal any broken bones, and toxicology tests will take weeks to return. "You have to consider the fact that there's a possibility that drugs or a drug overdose could be involved. We just simply, at this stage, do not know what we have."

The coroner's office had hoped a couple of prescription pill bottles, found near the body, would help identify the man, but it now appears he wasn't the person to whom those prescriptions were written.

Modern science may play a crucial role. The coroner used tissue builder to soften up the mummified tissue and get a clean fingerprint which will be compared to the police database to see if there's a match.

Update, Wed 5:45 pm: Authorities are trying to identify a body found in a vacant apartment.

An Evansville landlord, getting ready to show the apartment unit, made a gruesome discovery Tuesday morning.

Landlord Steve Robertson says he knew something was wrong when he walked into one of his apartments that was supposed to have been vacant for months and saw empty beer bottles on the floor. He says, he then walked a little farther into the bedroom and saw a hand sticking out of the closet. Then, realized it was the body of a man laying in the closet.

Robertson, at first, thought he might be asleep, but when he saw the blue and shriveled skin, knew the man was dead.

Police were called to the scene, but don't suspect foul play. The landlord, Steve Robertson, thinks the unidentified Hispanic man may have been looking for shelter and climbed in through a window. "My take on it, just from judging what happened, is that somebody thought it would be a great place that didn't have a place to sleep, or thought it would be a great place to have a couple beers and catch a nap."

The Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office is performing an autopsy to determine the cause of death, but may need the public's help in identifying the victim if they can't confirm it on their own.

We'll talk to Coroner Don Erk and have that for you Wednesday on 14 News @ 10.

Previously: An Evansville landlord makes a surprising and chilling discovery while preparing to show a vacant apartment.

Inside, he found a dead and partially mummified body!

The apartment had been vacant for months, and the landlord, Steve Robertson, was making his usual inspection before renting it out when he found an unexpected and unauthorized tenant.

Robertson says he walked into the vacant apartment and noticed a couple of empty 40 ounce beer bottles on the floor. That raised his suspicions because no one had been renting the apartment for months. He walked a little further into the bedroom, and that's when he saw a hand sticking out of the closet.

Robertson describes, "[The body] had a flannel shirtsleeve on it; kind of took me back a little bit. I moved further in, and saw that it was appeared to be a male laying on his back with his hand hanging out of the closet. [He] looked to be asleep."

But he wasn't asleep, he was dead and had been so for weeks - maybe months.

Police don't suspect foul play, but the Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office is conducting an autopsy Wednesday afternoon to try and determine the cause of death.

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