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Unidentified body found in casket at Linn County cemetery

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Harrisburg cemetery

HARRISBURG, Ore. – Authorities are seeking help identifying a dead man who was found in a hand-built wooden casket at a Linn County cemetery.

The sheriff’s office said deputies responded to a rural cemetery in the 24000 block of Powerline Road near Harrisburg on March 31 after learning that a suspicious wooden box had been found behind a tree in the area.

Inside the box, authorities found a dead man, and they say he has yet to be identified. The board of directors for the cemetery told officials there were no burials that had been scheduled and didn’t know why the casket was left at the location.

The man did not have any obvious signs of trauma on his body, authorities said. He was white, between the ages of 30 and 60 and 5 feet 10 inches tall. Officials added that he weighed 350 pounds and had brown and gray hair. He wore size 10.5 shoes and had a healed surgery scar on his lower back.

Community members are certainly asking questions. 

For 50 years, Leeroy Kroph has lived on the property just off Powerline Road where the body was found. It's home to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery.

"My first thought was, why would someone drop that off at the cemetery? Maybe they needed to bury a body," Leeroy said. 

He said while the discovery is alarming, he still feels safe in the area. 

"We are comfortable living here. I think it's a one-off kind of thing," Leeroy said. 

Preston Kroph lives just down the road from the cemetery. He said the same tree has been the scene of another suspicious situation in the past. 

"There's weird things that go on in that cemetery pretty often," Preston said. "Probably 10 years ago, someone committed suicide by that exact tree."

Linn County Sheriff Michelle Duncan told KEZI there was no vehicle found near the casket and the wood pieces were nailed together. 

"We are hoping that there are some family or friends that can help us put an identification to this person," Duncan said. 

Officials are working with the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office to determine his identity and the cause of death. Anyone with information should contact detectives at 541-967-3950.

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