Originally created 05/11/00

Found body identified



AIKEN -- An man whose decomposed body was found in deep in a wooded area of Aiken County was identified Wednesday as an Edgefield resident.

Willie Chinn, 72, of Edgefield, died sometime after walking out of the Aiken Regional Medical Centers on March 2. Mr. Chinn was recovering from hip surgery, which was needed after he fell from the back of a moving truck.

Once he was ready to be released, his family wouldn't take him and the Department of Social Services refused to get involved, Aiken County Coroner Sue Townsend said.

So instead of remaining a ward of the hospital, Mr. Chinn borrowed clothes and walked away from the hospital. His body was found Monday about 5 miles from there in a wooded area, two miles from the nearest road -- Mason Branch Road. The nearest town is Ridge Spring.

An autopsy performed Tuesday did not determine an exact cause of death, but forensic pathologists suggest he could have died from exposure to cold weather, a heart attack or even stroke. The condition of his body complicated the autopsy, Mrs. Townsend said.

Foul play has been ruled out, she said.