Originally created 07/14/97

Bodies found in Augusta Canal, on Laney Walker



Richmond County police officers are still trying to identify two bodies discovered Sunday at different locations.

About 10:45 a.m., a fisherman found the body of a black man floating in the Augusta Canal, just west of the Calhoun Expressway overpass.

The man, who has not been identified, is 25 to 45 years old, said Richmond County Sheriff's Investigator Lee Goode. He is between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet tall and weighed 160-180 pounds, Investigator Goode said.

The body was bloated and partially decomposed, leading police to believe the man had been in the water for longer than a day but less than a week, said Investigator Goode said.

The man was fully clothed in blue jeans, a braided leather belt, a brown-and-beige plaid, long-sleeve shirt, and white tennis shoes. Because he was dressed, police don't think the man drowned while swimming in the canal.

But they aren't sure yet how the man died - whether he slipped in the canal while fishing and drowned or whether his body was dumped in the canal.

"Right now, we're just uncertain what the cause (of death) was," Investigator Goode said.

Deputies searched near where the body was found for abandoned fishing equipment, but didn't find any, Chief Deputy Ronnie Strength said.

"You get a body in the water, you don't know where that body went in," he said.

In a separate case, around 2 p.m., a passing motorist spotted the body of a black woman lying in tall grass along the 500 block of Laney Walker Boulevard, just a few feet from the road.

The body had been there since at least 7:30 a.m. Sunday, when another driver mistook it for a mannequin, Chief Deputy Strength said. But judging from the advanced stages of decomposition, the woman died earlier than Sunday morning, Chief Deputy Strength said.

"There's no way a body can get in that kind of shape in a day," he said.

The woman was wearing a tan silk pantsuit. Her shoes, a wrist watch and a broken pair of sunglasses were also found on the shoulder of the road in the knee-high weeds and grass. Police did not know how old she was.

As with the man found floating in the canal, investigators don't know how the unidentified woman died.

"At the scene, we didn't really see anything that would indicate a possible cause of death," Investigator Goode said.

Chief Deputy Strength said the woman probably died elsewhere, then her body was dumped along Laney Walker Boulevard, between Hayes Street and Lovers Lane.

Evidence indicates the body either thrown from a car or the woman was hit by a car while walking down the road, Chief Deputy Strength said.

Investigators are searching missing persons reports in hopes of identifying the man and woman.

The bodies were taken to the state crime lab in Atlanta for autopsies. Preliminary autopsy results, which should be released today, might tell investigators how the two died.