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- GUEST OPINION: Playing Safe
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Mosquito Creek body missing head; now ruled suicide
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Investigators are closer to identifying the man found in Mosquito Creek last Thursday. New evidence secured from an autopsy performed yesterday, combined with old-fashioned detective work now leads authorities to believe the victim took his own life by overdosing on pills.
JH Weekly was able to confirm the victim’s head was found detached from the body in a manner that caused investigators from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, along with the FBI, to speculate the victim had met with foul play. Other evidence at the crime scene indicated a possible struggle of some kind and the confirmed presence of at least one other person. On Friday, the TCSO issued a press release stating the department was treating the case as a homicide.
“The pathologist conducting the autopsy believes the head was separated from the torso by an animal sometime after death. That was also the opinion of an FBI investigator who viewed photographs of the crime scene,” Undersheriff Bob Gilliam said. “Initially, it was not clear an animal had severed the head. There seemed to be a very clear and clean line of separation between the skin and the vertebrae.”
Toxicology reports indicated two things: The victim had late-stage cancer, and his blood was full of enough unspecified narcotics to kill him.
“Credit goes to our detectives and their diligence,” Gilliam said. “They spent hours trying to match photos with what we believed the victim looked like in a normal state with those of people we had picked up for vagrancy and other petty charges. At first we thought we were dealing with a transient.”
When toxicology reports confirmed the victim had cancer, detectives began calling on local medical centers where the man may have sought treatment. That’s when they found a match.
The man, who is from the East Coast, is believed to have traveled to Jackson with the intent of ending his life with the assistance of a family member. Police believe that family member was present with the victim when he took enough pills to kill himself in Mosquito Creek. Investigators have been in contact with the man’s relatives and are still piecing together the scenario but feel fairly confident – “99.9 percent sure,” Gilliam said – that they have the right guy and the basic premise that suicide is the probable cause of death.
The incident likely took place three to five weeks ago. Follow-up questioning and dental record identification are still being conducted. Gilliam said he hopes to have a positive ID and more answers later Wednesday. Gilliam could not say whether the family member with the victim would be charged in any way.
“That’s up to the county prosecutor,” he said.