By Muhammad Atef | May 4, 2021

Body near remote Benton County farm still a mystery

Benton County investigators are trying to identify the body found in rural southeastern Benton County

Benton County investigators are trying to identify the body found in rural southeastern Benton County

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Investigators are continuing to work on identifying the person found at the edge of a crop circle access road in southeast Benton County.

Farm workers discovered the “substantially decomposed” remains in a remote field between Finley and Plymouth on Thursday, Coroner Bill Leach said. So far, investigators have not found anything that would help determine who the person was.

Detectives finished processing the scene on Friday with help from the Washington State Patrol crime lab. Kennewick police are helping Benton County sheriff’s deputies with the investigation, sheriff’s Commander Jon Schwarder said in a release Friday.

Investigators determined the remains were from a single person. Animals appeared to have damaged the body during the three to four years that it was likely in the area.

An autopsy is scheduled on Wednesday morning. It’s likely they will be able to determine the person’s gender, Leach said.

The coroner’s office also will use medical and dental records with the hope of coming up with an identification.

“We’ll look and see what missing person reports there are and where the physical descriptions and dental records match,” he said. “It’s going to be a needle in a haystack.”

Once the autopsy is wrapped up the remains will head to the state’s forensic anthropologist. Her investigation will likely turn up the person’s race and age. It’s unclear how long it will take before that investigation is finished.

If they need to rely on DNA, it is possible it could take weeks or months before they are able to identify the person.

Investigators are looking at people who have gone missing from Benton and Franklin counties, but they aren’t looking at any one person in particular.

Police have been searching for several people who have disappeared in the past few years, including Estela Torres Rodriguez, who was believed to have been killed in her Franklin County home; Nathan Rich, who is believed to be dead after disappearing in 2018, and Jessica Adams, who disappeared in 2020.

It’s also possible the person came from outside of the Tri-Cities, Leach said.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.

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