Midstate Mystery: The man found murdered in the woods

Just off Idle Road in Rye Township, Perry County, you’ll find a peaceful, almost idyllic stretch of woods.

“It’s a very secluded area,” said Trooper Donald Chewning of the Pennsylvania State Police.

But evidence markers are a clear reminder that something horrible was discovered there.

Back in late May, a man gathering wildflowers found skeletal remains at the base of a steep embankment.  The area is not visible from the road above.

Chewning said the man was murdered; shot multiple times. But beyond that, there’s not much he can be certain of, including the man’s identity.

“At this point we’ve had no possible matches from the Harrisburg, Cumberland County, Perry County area,” Chewning said.  

Police said the man was likely between 45 and 70-years-old.  He was 5’11 to 6’6.  

In an effort to identify him, police also released new information only to abc27, including that the man had brownish/grey hair.  They said he also had no dental restoration and his teeth were in very poor condition.

What’s more, police said the man had a medical screw in his lower right leg, just above the ankle.

“He had a previous injury,” Chewning said. “We believe it was an older injury because bone had actually healed around the screw.  So at some time in his life he had trauma to that area and a screw was implanted there.”

Based on leaf cover and other evidence, investigators believe the man’s body was there for at least seven months, possibly as long as 20.  They believe he could have gone missing anywhere from the fall of 2012 to the fall of 2013.

“It’s difficult to tell, but from what we can see, there was only one layer of leaf cover over the remains,” Chewning said.

How did the man’s body get there?  Who left him at the base of the steep embankment?  And why did someone want him dead?

Those are all questions police hope they will someday be able to answer after they can finally determine who he was.

“We’d like to get this individual identified so we can move onto the apprehension of the perpetrator and hopefully this does generate some leads,” Chewning said.

State police have put the man’s DNA into a national database and they are awaiting word of any possible matches.  

If you have any information about the man’s identity, or his murder, you’re asked to call the Pa. State Police at 717-567-3110 or Perry County Crime Stoppers at 1-866-210-8477.  A cash reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest.

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