CHINA TWP. (WWJ) - Authorities think they've found evidence that might be connected to a man's dismembered body, which was found in garbage bags dumped along rural roads in St. Clair County.
Speaking live on WWJ Newsradio 950 Friday morning, Sheriff Tim Donnellon said it's something like he's never seen before.
"Homicides, they are rare in our county. We do have, from time to time, body's dropped -- that are coming out of the metro area -- but we've never had anything like this," he said. "We've not had a situation where somebody's been cut up and put in garbage bags."
A bag containing evidence that investigators believe is connected to the human remains was found early Friday morning. The discovery was made about 12 hours after multiple bags of body parts were found dumped along roads in rural China Township.
"Sometime after 4 a.m... a commuter saw a bag on the entrance ramp of I-94 from Fred Moore Highway and contacted us, and that's where we picked up the last bag with evidence it in and we're still sorting it all out," Donnellon said.
That bag contained clothing and charred paperwork, according to police. Detectives are now checking the contents of the bag to determine any link to the remains, which are believed to be from one person, a white male. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday afternoon at the St. Clair County Medical Examiner's Office.
The investigation started to unfold around 4 p.m. Thursday, after a resident called police to report a number of garbage bags being dumped on Allington Road, between Fred Moore Highway and Trumble Road, about 50 miles northeast of Detroit. Bags were also found on Fred Moore Highway, just a few miles from the Macomb County border.
"I'm assuming they assumed it was garbage and took a look in the bags and saw what they thought to be human remains and called us," Donnellon said.
A woman who claims her family member made the gruesome discovery, Erica, contacted WWJ Newsradio 950 to explain what happened.
"I have a relative who lives on one of the roads nearby and she drove by and seen (the bags) and was wondering what they were, and she happened to look inside one of them and saw what looked to her was guts," Erica said.
"She was just sickened by it and then kept driving and she saw another one. She just peeked out her window and then, this is what she said, she saw a head," Erica continued. "She told me that it rolled out of the garbage bag. I'm assuming that, I don't know, that whoever threw it out, you know, the bag wasn't tied and maybe it rolled a little bit, but she was able to see it because it was kind of, half-way rolled out."
As detectives were investigating on site, Donnellon said they received a tip from a different resident who reported seeing a vehicle dropping garbage on the side of the road.
"So, we did have a citizen see someone dropping garbage, which could very well be tied to this case," he said.
Donnellon said investigators are now looking to speak with a middle-aged, heavy-set white woman who was spotted in the area, driving a late 1990s gray or tan sport utility vehicle — perhaps a GMC Jimmy or Chevrolet Trailblazer.
As far as the remains are concerned, Donnellon said investigators are trying to determine that man's identity.
"Right now, we're making contact with our neighboring counties to see who has missing people. So, we've got leads in on individuals missing in Oakland and Macomb counties at this time and we're going to be tracking those down (Friday)," he said.
Investigators are working with the Michigan State Police Crime Lab across three different crime scenes. Donnellon said they're treating the case as a homicide. Some of the remains were in bags, others were not.
"Everything will be brought to the morgue and our medical examiner will do the full review and hopefully at that point, we're going to have a lot more information," he said.
Anyone with information is urged to call police at 810-987-1744 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.
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