LAWRENCEVILLE - Many who live in the Old Farm Estates subdivision off Ga. Highway 20 had their own theories Tuesday as to how two bodies ended up in the wooded area behind their Lawrenceville homes.
Gwinnett County Police Department spokesman Cpl. Darren Moloney said two teens walking through the wooded backyards of two homes on Los Alamos Place discovered the remains of two people lying in the overgrown brush Monday afternoon.
"I tried to take a shortcut with my sister and I found two bodies," said Edgar Sanchez, a 17-year-old resident of the neighborhood. "I saw the bones and thought it was a joke from Halloween. My sister started laughing when she saw the bones. She thought it was a joke."
Sanchez said he and his sister, Diana Sanchez, 13, discovered the skeletal remains of the two people as they were walking through the woods on their way to a nearby McDonald's restaurant around 1:30 p.m. Monday.
Although Sanchez said he and his sister did not think much of their discovery, he said he later mentioned it to his mother who suggested the teens report their findings to 911.
Moloney said authorities arrived on scene about 9 p.m., shortly after the call was received. He said officers located the bodies less than 100 feet away from two homes.
The area was taped off Monday night, but processing of the scene did not begin until Tuesday morning to ensure officers had daylight, Moloney said
Because of the advanced stages of decomposition, Moloney said it was not possible to tell the age, sex or race of the deceased bodies by first appearance, and it is too early to tell how long the bodies have been in the wooded location. He said investigators believe the bodies are that of a man and woman, but an autopsy has not been completed.
"It's up to the medical examiner to determine how long the bodies have been out there," Moloney said. "I've seen bodies that have severe decomposition but have only been out there a few days, so you have to be careful with saying how long they've been out there. Weather and other conditions will have to be taken into consideration."
Ted Bailey, chief forensic investigator for the Office of the Medical Examiner, said investigators will try to match dental records to determine identity.
He said examinations of the bodies will not be completed until today and said he was not sure how long it would take to make a positive identification.
"It's hard to say. It may be tomorrow, it may be a few days or it could be a week," Bailey said.
Residents of homes overlooking the crime scene said they do not know how the bodies ended up in their neighborhood and were shocked to learn of the discovery.
A woman living in the neighborhood, who did not want her name revealed, said she has lived in the neighborhood nearly four years but has never experienced a similar incident.
"This is just weird," she said. "This is a quiet neighborhood and everybody pretty much keeps to themselves."
Steve Hoke, a contractor for Victory Construction Inc., who often does repairs on homes in the neighborhood, said he's always known the area to be quiet and safe, but said he remembers a resident telling him she called police in early January after hearing screaming coming from the wooded area behind her home. He said police searched the area but never found anyone.
"It's usually a nice quiet community," Hoke said. "It's a honey hole, so to speak, stuff like this doesn't happen out and around here."
Eydie Schultz, who makes weekly visits to see her father, Tom Schultz, who lives in the Old Farm subdivision, said the bodies were found about 10 feet from her father's property line, but the wooded area behind the home is not a main thoroughfare. She said she has never seen any strange activity in the area before.
"It's suspicious," Eydie Schultz said. "We don't know who they are, but I would think if they had been there a while somebody would have noticed. It's really shocking to us."
Tom Schultz said although nothing similar has ever happened in the time he has lived in the neighborhood, he can only guess what happened.
"This is probably someone who did something wrong going up 20 and just dumped them here," he said.
Schultz said he has lived in his home for 18 years and said he still feels safe despite the discovery.
The teen who discovered the bodies said he and his family are new to the neighborhood, but the incident doesn't make him uneasy about living in the subdivision.
"We've only lived in the neighborhood for about a month, but no, I'm not scared," Sanchez said. "Things happen, you know."