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Body discovered at closed South Hall park to be investigated as homicide

POSTED: October 25, 2013 10:27 p.m.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office officials said a body found Thursday afternoon in a South Hall park is being investigated as a homicide.

Deputies responded about 2 p.m. at Chestnut Ridge Park near Lake Lanier and found human remains wrapped in a blanket inside a bathroom, according to Lt. Stephen Wilbanks. It was discovered by cleanup crews.

“Despite the fact that the evidence at the scene indicates that is not where the crime occurred, it’s still being investigated as a homicide in our jurisdiction,” Wilbanks said.

Investigators verified the remains were human, but were not able to determine the person’s gender, age or identity due the body’s advanced state of decomposition. It appeared the remains had been there for quite awhile.

The body was transported to the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy.

“We hope to have preliminary results some time next week,” Wilbanks said, adding that a full report won’t be available until later.

Chestnut Ridge Park is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property that was closed to the public several years ago.

The corps said the park was closed in 2005 or 2006. It has been under long-term lease by Lake Lanier Islands Development Authority since 2008.

Wilbanks said the park had fallen into disrepair and had been vandalized and accessed illegally.

“Vandals had been going in there and stealing copper from the building; we’ve had periodic complaints of unauthorized people camping there,” Wilbanks said. “A lot of the park is bordered by the lake, so it’s easily accessible by the water.”

The main road to the park has been gated for years, Wilbanks said.

The case remains under investigation by the Sheriff’s Office’s Criminal Investigations Division. Anyone who has seen or heard suspicious activity in the area is encouraged to contact the sheriff’s office.

“At this early stage in the investigation, we don’t have any specific information to put out that we’re requesting information on,” Wilbanks said. “But in any case, if the public has information they think would be helpful, we’re happy to listen.”

Tips can be made to the sheriff’s office at 770-503-3232.



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