For the second time in seven years, authorities are investigating a case involving a body dumped along the road in one of Perry County’s smallest municipalities.
What were described as “human skeletal remains” were found Thursday afternoon in a heavily wooded area just off U.S. Routes 22/322, about 25 yards away from an area where tractor-trailers regularly park in Howe Twp.
Perry County Coroner Michael Shalonis said because of the body’s condition, the cause of death was not readily apparent. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, he said.
The property where the body was found — approximately 2.5 miles east of the Newport exit on westbound Route 322 – changed owners two months ago, and a man was surveying it for a relative and found the body around 3 p.m. Thursday, Shalonis said.
District Attorney Charles Chenot said the body was wrapped in something, possibly a carpet or blanket.
The man who found the body didn’t immediately know what it was and started unwrapping it, and then called authorities when he realized what he found, Shalonis said.
Shalonis and Chenot said they are counting on the autopsy to tell them how the person died. At this point, authorities could not determine whether the body was male or female.
Though Howe Twp. has only about 500 residents, the area is heavily traveled because of Route 322 and its access to Interstate 81 in Dauphin County.
Authorities are still investigating the first case involving a body found in the area in 2003.
The body of Elpidio Vargas, 57, of the 700 block of Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in Manhattan, New York City, was found Nov. 16, 2003, on private property off Mountain Road in the township.
When Vargas was found, he was wearing dress pants, a dress shirt and dress shoes but no coat.
Vargas was not carrying identification, and police learned who he was through fingerprints.
Police said he was from the Dominican Republic and spoke primarily Spanish and little English.
Chenot said the Vargas is still listed as active.
“I know its still being looked at,” Chenot said. “But investigators have never been able to determine exactly what happened.”