DACULA — That two decomposing bodies turned up in a single weekend in the otherwise tranquil environs of greater Dacula appears to be a coincidence, officials said Monday, but the macabre findings were enough to make some residents uneasy.
Investigators have leads into the identity of both bodies but were awaiting autopsy results and notification of next-of-kin before releasing that information Monday.
The first remains turned up about 8 p.m. Saturday in a small, overgrown lot that abuts Harbins Road just south of Ga. Highway 316. A neighbor came across the skeletonized remains while chasing his dog in the lot and called police, said Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith.
The gender of the remains hasn’t been confirmed. Smith said the bones appear to have been lying in the lot — in an area where rolling pastures mingle with subdivisions and older, roadside homes — for well over a year.
A young woman from Louisiana staying next door said she saw the remains before police arrived Saturday evening. The bones, about 100 feet from the road, bore no clothing, but a perfume bottle lay beside them, she said.
“It was basically like a skeleton ... it was basically together, except for what the animals had taken off it,” said the woman, who withheld her name. “It wasn’t scary; it was just weird.”
Six miles up the road at Little Mulberry Park, a man hiking with his son about a half mile from the park’s Fence Road entrance found a badly decomposed body in the woods and called police about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
By Monday, Smith confirmed that those remains were male but could not elaborate on his identity or cause of death, pending an autopsy. The body had been there less than a week, Smith said.
Police are privy to missing persons reports that could be related to both cases but declined to release them Monday.
“There are leads into the identity of both of the bodies,” Smith said.
Auburn resident Greg Meszaros, cooling in the shade after a stroll around the sprawling park with his son, wasn’t aware of police activity in the area and called the idea of a body in the woods shocking.
“I’m surprised,” Meszaros said. “It makes you want to pay attention to what’s going on around you.”
Added 10-year-old Elijah: “It’s sad.”
Frequent park patron Jinny Coffer, of Hoschton, said she makes it a point to walk the park’s trails with a friend, “but I’ve never been worried about anything,” she said.
Bucolic as it may be, Harbins Road played host to a homicide scene three years ago, not far from where the skeleton turned up Saturday.
Carlos Alberto Davila, 44, was found shot to death in the parking lot of a rural hardware store on Harbins Road at New Hope Road in May 2008. Investigators relied on fingerprint records from Texas to identify Davila. Police at the time would not confirm if Davila was shot there or dumped.
No arrests were reported in that case.