BY MATT TROUTMAN
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities are trying to figure out the identity of a body found in an East Bay Township field.
Grand Traverse Sheriff's Department deputies responded to a call Tuesday at about 5 p.m. of a possible dead body. Two horseback riders found human remains in a field northwest of the intersection of Three Mile and Potter roads.
Capt. Randy Fewless said there were no immediate signs of foul play, no signs of trauma to the body and investigators were proceeding carefully. He said an official cause of death may take weeks.
"We haven't been able to rule out anything at this point," he said.
No identification was found with the body. Fewless said investigators searched for nearby cars or locations where the subject might have camped, but found nothing.
Authorities said they're trying to identify a white male between 25 and 35 years of age. The man was described as 5 foot, 11 inches tall, weighing 184 pounds, clean shaven with short dark hair with brown or hazel eyes. He was wearing black shoes, dark pants, dark sweatshirt, and was found with a black backpack.
Authorities initially refused to release information on where the body was found other than in a field in East Bay Township, even as the public was asked to provide information to help with identification. Fewless said deputies took that step to not “jeopardize evidence in the area” with public foot traffic as investigators sought clues.
The sheriff's department's first news release on the dead man came out about 16 hours after the remains were discovered.
Many details, including gender, were not immediately known to investigators. The body was transported to Grand Rapids for a forensic autopsy.
Grand Traverse County Medical Examiner Matthew Houghton said investigators believe the body was in the field for at least 12 hours and had signs of dehydration.
"It's being treated as a homicide right now, but very possibly can be a suicide," he said.
Authorities are asking people with information about the person's potential identity or who may be aware of family members or friends who have not been seen in two or three days to contact the sheriff's department at 231-995-5002.