Originally created 05/11/00

X-rays lead to identity



AIKEN -- The body of a man found in an Aiken County pine thicket four days ago was identified Wednesday as an Edgefield resident.

X-rays and fingerprints positively identified 72-year-old Willie Chinn. He was found by a husband and wife Monday afternoon in a wooded area two miles from Mason Branch Road. The couple was four-wheeling and smelled a stench in the forest. The strong order led them to the badly decomposed body, which might have been there for two months.

Aiken County Coroner Sue Townsend said she still is not sure how Mr. Chinn died, but an autopsy performed Tuesday ruled out foul play.

Heart complications or exposure to cold weather might have killed him, she said.

The man voluntarily left Aiken Regional Medical Centers, where he had been recovering from hip surgery since November, Mrs. Townsend said.

Mr. Chinn had fallen from the back of a slow-moving pickup. His family refused to care for him, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services refused the hospital's request to find him a place to stay. Mrs. Townsend is trying to find out why.

Mr. Chinn's nephews, however, have offered to pay for his funeral.

Mr. Chinn borrowed some casual clothes and left the hospital March 2. His body was discovered about five miles from there.

Not much is known about the man.

He was jailed at the Edgefield County Detention Center at least eight times since 1994 for public drunkenness and disorderly conduct, jail records show. His longest incarceration was 12 days.

Reach Chasiti Kirkland at (803) 279-6895.