MANCELONA — Marna Robertson wishes she had run into Robert Eric Nothstine sometime last year, offered him his old job and gave him a place to stay.
Robertson, administrator at Meadow Brook Medical Care Facility in Bellaire, remembers Nothstine’s kindness toward residents in his 20-plus years as a maintenance worker at Meadow Brook. She never saw Nothstine after he unexpectedly quit in 2007, but he left enough of an impression that she asked about his whereabouts last year.
“When I asked other employees, they said he just dropped off the radar,” she said.
What Robertson didn’t know was that Nothstine, 51, and his brother Daniel Lloyd Nothstine, 56, had been homeless and were last seen in August walking into the woods near the Cedar River in Antrim County, borrowed tent in hand.
On April 30, people looking for deer antler sheds stumbled across the tent in Custer Township with two decomposed bodies inside. Speculation quickly arose that they were the Nothstine brothers, but investigators awaited results from a forensic autopsy to give positive identifications.
Fingerprints from one body matched Daniel Nothstine, said Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean on Thursday. Investigators believe the other body is that of Robert Nothstine, but still await DNA analysis for positive identification.
Bean said a cause of death hasn’t been established, but there were no obvious signs of suicide or foul play. He said the brothers hadn’t been reported missing until news spread about the bodies in the tent.
“Nobody reported them, that’s all I can tell you,” he said.
The Nothstine brothers were well-known to Mancelona residents, who still recall Robert worked at Meadow Brook and Daniel at Derrer Oil, even years after they both left those jobs. People knew Daniel once bowled a 300 game, they waved hello when Robert walked down the streets, and folks greeted the brothers when they visited the local hardware.