Fayetteville, N.C. — Police on Friday continued to investigate the discovery of a body near Sherwood Park Elementary School in Fayetteville.
A woman collecting pine cones discovered the badly decomposed body in the back yard at 1959 Aspen Court at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday, police said. The body was among pine needles, pine cones and leaves in the yard and was covered with a white bag.
Neighbor Merlene McKinnon said he thought the bag was filled with yard debris.
"It was just lying there as though he was going to do his yard," McKinnon said.
The owner of the home, Carl Johnson Jr., couldn't be reached Friday for comment. But police said he expressed surprise when he learned of the body.
Neighbors said Johnson has lived in the home for 30 years and cares for his ill mother.
Police said the body was a man, but they haven't released his identity. They provided few other details about the case, other than to say the body apparently had been there for a couple weeks.
The body has been sent to the state Chief Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.
Neighbor Steve Fleetwood said he noticed a smell outside early this week that wouldn't go away.
"I thought maybe it was one of our cats bringing in something that they killed. It was a terrific smell," Fleetwood said. "It never occurred to me to go look. I've never even been in (Johnson's) back yard."
Police were treating the case as a suspicious death.
Residents describe the neighborhood as quiet, friendly and safe, and they said they're spooked by the discovery of the body.
"It was a shock. It was a sleepless night. I had to take a sleeping pill to get to sleep," Barbara Fleetwood said.
"It's beyond me. I really have no clue. It's odd, it's very odd. It just doesn't add up," Steve Fleetwood said.