A Mosier area family out for a walk on their large property found a decomposed body Saturday afternoon. The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search of the property and an investigation is ongoing.
Chief Deputy Scott Williams said Monday morning that officials still do not know who the person is, or their gender.
An autopsy is planned, Dr. Miriam McDonell, the county’s medical examiner, said Monday.
Williams said identification steps include using dental records, or, if necessary, DNA testing. He has been with the department for 15 years and said this was the second time in those years civilians had found a body.
He said it was unknown if law officers were done looking at the scene, on Dry Creek. “We’ve got a lot to do, but first and foremost we need to identify this person.”
The family included a husband and wife and their 13-year-old son, who was the one who actually spotted the body first. The Chronicle is not identifying the family because the sheriff’s office did not want the location of the discovery to become public.
The father said, “The first thing that we noticed was the smell. We were not trying to track down the smell, we were just enjoying our walk through the woods and as we were walking through the woods my son said to me, ‘Dad, there’s a dead person there.’ He didn’t say body, he said person. I remember exactly what he said.
“And so I looked where he indicated and at first I didn’t see it, because the body had apparently been there for some time,” he said. “It did not stand out from the natural setting it was lying in at all. So I had to stare where he was pointing, and then I clearly saw a full human body.”
The family hikes their property regularly, he said, but that day, “My son said he wanted to walk back a different way. He said he just wanted to go straight up the hill instead of following the trail, so that’s what we were doing.”
Later on, as they kept thinking about it, he said, “We kept saying, ‘that’s a person.’ Our thoughts were, it’s a person, what was their life? What’s their story? Is somebody missing them? What kind of anguish are the person’s friends going through?”
Williams said several agencies helped in the search, including the Sherman County Sheriff’s Office, which brought a drone to do an aerial search of the property.
Williams said the body was found in the bottom of a draw, with no trails and no roads there for the most part.
While only twice citizens have found bodies, the sheriff’s office regularly gets calls from people who think they have found a body. It is usually a pet buried in a blanket, he said.