TRAVERSE CITY — A medical examiner ruled exposure killed two brothers whose bodies were found in a tent in rural Antrim County, but investigators still harbor questions about the deaths.
Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean said a medical examiner in Grand Rapids listed exposure as the cause of death on the death certificates of Robert Eric Nothstine, 51, and Daniel Lloyd Nothstine, 56.
But Bean said he’s not seen anything like the Nothstine brothers’ deaths during his 30 years in law enforcement: Two individuals who died in a tent, with no signs of suicide or foul play.
“If one of them got sick, why didn’t one of them go out to get help?” Bean said. “There’s just some questions we might never have answers to on it.”
People looking for deer antler sheds in Custer Township stumbled across the brothers’ tent in late April. Bean said the Nothstines were dropped off in the area in August with a tent. Investigators believe that’s the last time the brothers were seen alive.
Deputies found two or three pop cans, a sleeping bag, a coat, clothing and “signs someone tried to start a small fire” near the tent, Bean said. They did not find any garbage or food at the site.
“It’s an odd case,” Bean said. “Did they just run out of food? Who knows. Maybe they just had (Meals Ready-to-eat) and the stuff got burned up. I don’t know.”
Bean said investigators believe the two brothers remained at the camp site after they were dropped off in August.
“We have nowhere to show they went anywhere else but there,” he said.
Houses are located about three-quarters of a mile in either direction from the campsite, Bean added.
When exactly each man died remains a mystery. Bean said that information could be revealed when the medical examiner issues a full report, but such reports sometimes take up to six months to complete.
The Nothstines’ relatives either declined comment or could not be reached for this story.