A body found last week at Chestnut Ridge Park near Lake Lanier is now believed to be that of a white or Hispanic female.
The “age has not been determined yet, but a very general estimate is late teens or a smaller-framed adult,” said Lt. Stephen Wilbanks, spokesman for the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, citing initial findings from the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Also, the body is thought to have been at the park for about six months, Wilbanks said.
Cleanup crews found the body at the South Hall park, alerting authorities. Deputies responded about 2 p.m. Thursday and found human remains wrapped in a blanket inside a bathroom, Wilbanks said.
“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,” he said.
At the time, investigators were able to verify the remains were human, but they couldn’t determine the person’s gender, age or identity due the body’s advanced state of decomposition.
The body was transported to the medical examiner’s office for an autopsy.
The office “is conducting further testing to ... hopefully establish an identity via dental records,” Wilbanks said.
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.