Initially only local media outlets reported on the bizarre story but due to the buzz it generated, it was soon picked up by national wire services. Some press headlines sensationalized the strange event. Others simply allowed the odd details to garner public interest without using any cheap, tabloid-like tactics.
After the dust settled, the Sheriff’s department had a very curious death to investigate. The unfortunate driver who struck and killed an unidentified pedestrian was cleared of any wrong doing. Still, important answers remained.
“Why was the extremely large man wearing an ‘ape-like’ costume in a wooded area? More importantly, why was he standing in the middle of the road, late at night?”; The police chief pondered. Those and other pertinent questions loomed overhead. They might never be officially answered but it was their responsibility to take the investigation as far as humanly possible.
Blood samples were sent off to the state crime lab for toxicology analysis. Because of the nature of lab work, the results would take a couple weeks to get back. Meanwhile, fingerprints pulled from the deceased man were being cross referenced with the FBI database. So far no positive ID match had been made.
The lead detective assigned to the case noted that no abandoned vehicle was found near the victim. Since the accident site was six miles from any residential area, that was puzzling. With the heavily-padded fur suit he was wearing, it also seemed unlikely that he walked to the remote location where he died.
If their mystery (cave)man was dropped off in the middle of a national forest (as detective Breckenridge surmised), whomever left him there knew he was missing. That lack of concern for his well being pointed to the possibility of foul play. Still, it was too early in the investigation to form concrete opinions until more facts were ascertained. To do any more than speculate was irresponsible.
“Our John Doe was 6 foot 7 inches tall, approximately 20 years of age and weighed 365 pounds.”; The medical examiner noted. “He has a few minor scars and distinguishing features. It shouldn’t be too hard to get a positive ID once his dental X-rays are ran through the system. His considerable stature should make identifying him easy. I can’t imagine there being too many other missing young men his size around here. Oh, and another thing. The victim is almost certainly from North America.”; He added. “He has a driver’s tan on his left arm. Something you probably wouldn’t see on a British or Australian motorist.”
Armed with those unique statistics, the detective began searching missing persons reports in the nationwide database. It wasn’t long before a promising lead for the mystery ‘ape man’ turned up; tantalizingly close to home. A college student at the local university was reported missing by the dean of admissions. Initially his absence had been wrongly assumed to be student withdrawal. With the large number of students enrolled at the campus, it was easy to understand how one missing kid might ‘fall through the cracks’ but a few glaring discrepancies stood out.
The administrators assumed he had decided to drop out but his expensive laptop, cell phone, license and other personal possessions were still in his dorm room. Even more telling was that he hadn’t requested a refund of his remaining tuition. Since no one went anywhere without a driver’s license or money, the young man’s disappearance warranted greater scrutiny. After a similar physical description was obtained for the missing youth, they felt they might have solved the first part of their investigation.