A North Carolina family is seeking answers and grappling with heartache after their family member’s lifeless body was discovered face-down on the lawn of an empty house. Tragically, a groundskeeper mistook the body for a prop dummy and mowed the grass around it.
Discovery and Delay
The deceased, identified as Robert Paul Owens, aged 34, was found on October 10 at an abandoned log cabin utilized by several law enforcement agencies for training purposes. This location is situated on Shue Road, in the small town of China Grove, approximately 35 miles northeast of Charlotte, as reported by the China Grove Police Department.
On the previous day, October 9, a groundskeeper came across the body while tending to the property but believed it to be “a fake dummy used for training” and, regrettably, did not report the discovery to the authorities.
It wasn’t until a construction worker on the premises reported the body to the police on the following day that the incident came to light.
Heartache and Grief
Haley Shue, Owens’ sister, expressed her family’s profound grief over the delay in reporting her brother’s body. Due to the extended exposure, the family is unable to have an open casket memorial for Owens.
She recalled her brother as a kind-hearted individual who deeply cared for his nieces and nephews. The family suspects foul play in his death.
Suspicion of Foul Play
Shue stated that the last time they saw Owens was on Sunday, October 8. He had spent the day with a friend, visited a gas station, and received a ride back to his grandmother’s house where he lived. Later, someone picked him up to visit another friend, but he never returned home.
The abandoned house where his body was discovered is located near his grandmother’s residence, but it was a property he had never visited before, according to his sister. She described the location as off the main road, down a long driveway surrounded by woods and not visible to neighbors.
Shue received a call from her mother on Tuesday, October 10, expressing concern that no one had heard from her brother in two days. Later that day, the police informed the family that Owens’ body had been found, identified by his tattoos. However, the authorities refused to disclose the exact location where he was found, his condition, or the cause of death, other than confirming there was no gunshot wound.
Shue and her family took it upon themselves to locate the property, where they found a construction worker who had reported Owens’ body to the police. He described finding Owens face-down, wearing only underwear and socks, with one arm under him and one arm out. He noticed marks on Owens’ arms that appeared to be defensive in nature.
The construction worker informed Shue and her family that the groundskeeper had seen Owens’ body the previous day but assumed it was a Halloween decoration or a mannequin, subsequently mowing the entire property without verifying the situation.
The family expressed astonishment at how the groundskeeper did not pause to confirm the nature of the object, given its unusual appearance. They were further frustrated by the absence of crime scene tape or efforts to preserve the scene.
Preliminary findings from an autopsy, conducted on the following Friday, ruled out signs of assault or trauma to the body, with a pending toxicology report expected to determine the cause of death.
The family firmly believes there is foul play involved, noting that the police mentioned the presence of glass around Owens’ body. However, whether it was from a vehicle or another source is unclear.
Now, the family is appealing to the public for any tips or information related to unusual occurrences in China Grove on October 8 that may help solve the mystery surrounding Owens’ death.
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Remembering a Loved One
To cover Owens’ funeral costs, the family has launched an online fundraiser, driven by their desire to bring awareness to the situation and ensure their beloved family member’s story is not forgotten. Shue emphasized, “We just want to bring awareness to it. We miss him dearly.”