Local News

Durham family believes body found may be missing man

Posted September 5, 2009 10:27 p.m. EDT
Updated September 6, 2009 9:35 p.m. EDT

— Durham police said a decomposed body was found in a wooded area behind 16 Madrid Lane on Saturday evening.

A resident walking in the area found the body and alerted police around 6:30 p.m.

Police are treating the situation as a death investigation.

The body has not been identified. An autopsy has been ordered.

Neighbor Heather Hunt said she and other neighbors had detected a foul smell a few weeks ago, but never imagined it was a body.

“We did notice a couple days ago a scent was a little strong. We didn’t know where it was coming from. It would come and go,” Hunt said Sunday.

Hunt's dog had recently killed a possum, so she believed the smell could be from a dead animal.

Anyone with information is asked to call Investigator Pate at 560-4440, or Crime Stoppers at 683-1200. Crime Stoppers pays cash rewards for information leading to arrests in felony cases and callers never have to identify themselves.

Reginald Charles, the nephew of a missing Durham man, said police told him on the scene that the body had clothes  matching those of his missing uncle, 76-year-old John Henry Cheatham.

Cheatham, who was reported missing nearly a month ago, was last seen wearing a gray T-shirt with “ARMY” on the front, khaki pants, a black baseball cap with “ARMY” on it and khaki athletic shoes.

Cheatham went missing from his home on Casa Street – two streets away from Madrid Lane. He suffers from Alzheimer's disease, his wife, Connie Cheatham has said.

A Silver Alert, which quickly notifies the public about missing endangered adults, remains in effect for Cheatham.