MARIETTA — A west Cobb man swatting golf balls from his back yard ventured into the woods to reclaim the balls Sunday afternoon and made a grisly discovery.
There, on the forest floor off of Bob Cox Road and about 250 yards south of Burnt Hickory Road, laid a human skeleton, fully clothed in what appeared to be a young man’s pair of jeans and shoes.
Cobb County Police said the golfer, who lives on Ivy Manor Drive off Bob Cox, immediately reported his discovery at about 12:40 p.m. Sunday. Detectives launched an investigation, which remains open and active.
A wallet was found inside the pants pocket containing at least one identification card, police confirmed. The picture on the ID card was of a 21-year-old black man, whose name police are not releasing.
“We believe he’s 21 years of age,” said Sgt. Dana Pierce, spokesman for Cobb Police.
Pierce said detectives have a strong indication of the deceased man’s identity based on the ID card and interviews with the man’s family, but they are withholding the man’s name until an official cause of death and positive ID is made by the Cobb County Medical Examiner.
Pierce said the Marietta Police Department had put out a missing persons bulletin on the man in August 2013.
“His family is in Texas and they’ve been a great help in this investigation,” Pierce said.
The body was badly decomposed and appeared to have been deceased at least seven or eight months and possibly up to a year, Pierce said.
No suicide note was found, nor were there any weapons found near the body.
“The body, apparently it’s been there for quite a while. What I’m hearing from the sergeant over at that precinct is that there was no obvious signs at the scene of a physical type situation, nothing observable, that was done to the body,” Pierce said. “He could have died of natural causes, he could have died of exposure. The medical examiner has the final call.”
But one local man who lives in the area said he heard that helium canisters were found lying beside the body, a piece of information Pierce could neither confirm nor deny.
Pierce said the medical examiner will use DNA, dental records and information provided by family members to make a positive identity.
“Typically, with a decomposed body, we rely on their efforts sometimes through DNA, dental records, fingerprints, family and other things that help investigators positively identify the deceased,” he said.
Anyone who has information that would help solve this death is asked to contact the Cobb Police Crimes Against Persons Unit at (770) 4993945.
Pierce said the young man’s family is now in Texas, but some family members may have lived in the area. Whether they still live in Cobb, he said, is unclear.
“There were some family members who lived within a couple of miles of that area but I don’t know how recent that was,” he said.