Body in Ouray morgue for 20 yrs. may be ID’d
OURAY, Colorado ” An alert obituary reader may help officials identify the body of a man found at a campsite in southwestern Colorado 20 years ago and left unclaimed in a hospital morgue since then.
Ouray County Sheriff Dominic Mattivi said a resident called him to say that an obituary for Billy Russell McFadden, a Grand Junction resident who died Feb. 9, mentioned McFadden had a son, Russell Anthony McFadden, who disappeared 20 years ago.
The obituary was published Thursday in The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction.
Mattivi said Russell McFadden’s brother, Michael McFadden, agreed to give a DNA sample to see if there is a match with the unclaimed body.
“He was positive and very hopeful,” Mattivi said. “They’d like closure also, and after 20 years, they deserve it.”
Russell McFadden was reported missing in July 1987. In November 1987, a man’s body was found south of the town of Ouray. The man, who had no identification, apparently had been camping and had been there “quite some time” before he was discovered. No foul play was suspected, Mattivi said.
Mattivi and County Coroner Gary Miller were unaware the body was at the morgue until the hospital notified them in December. Miller had approached the county commission on Monday to ask for funds for a burial.
Both said they didn’t know why they weren’t told earlier that the body had been in the morgue all this time.
“I guess they were thinking some additional evidence would come in over a period of time,” Miller said of investigators.
Dr. Michael Benziger of Montrose Memorial Hospital’s pathology department issued a statement saying the facility was “fully aware” the body was there since 1987.
“When ‘John Doe’ was placed in the morgue in 1987, a thorough examination was performed and was recently updated in anticipation of burial,” Benziger said.
Information from: The Daily Sentinel, http://www.gjsentinel.com