4 bodies found in Indiana manholes
Friday, January 12th 2007
SOUTH BEND, Indiana - Four bodies have been found in manholes in an area frequented by homeless people hunting for scrap metal, and two deaths so far have been ruled homicides.
Two unidentified bodies were found Friday during a police sweep called after the discovery of the bodies of Michael Nolen Jr., 40, and Michael Lawson, 56, at the bottom of a manhole on Tuesday.
Nolen and Lawson, both homeless, died of blows to their heads and their deaths have been ruled homicides, authorities said. The bodies found Friday in another manhole about 100 yards away appeared to have died the same way, police said.
It was not immediately clear how long the victims had been dead.
"Clearly somebody did kill these people, but we don't know what their motives are, and we have no idea what transpired and what the motivation was for this," Capt. Phil Trent said.
Nolen's family contacted police after he failed to show up for a Christmas gathering, Trent said. A detective who went to a homeless shelter found out that Nolen, Lawson, and a third man who all hunted scrap metal together had all been missing since about Dec. 25.
Nolan and Laws were discovered in a manhole near a minor-league baseball stadium south of downtown South Bend.
The manhole provides access to tunnels beneath a closed Studebaker Corp. auto plant complex.
"These guys have strong ties to scrapping," Trent said. "We have more of a reason to believe this is related to scrapping metal than to believe it was done by a serial killer."
Police said the search, which included cadaver dogs, would be expanded to other areas frequented by metal scrappers.
"We certainly don't want to find any more bodies, but we're going to check," Trent said.
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