Sunday, January 09, 2011

Finding missing persons in the woods

I read reports of missing people in the woods with some interest because these are my woods. One time a person went missing in Leominster State Forest and I read that it was in a part of the woods I knew well. I thought: "...yeah it would be easy to get lost in there...I bet he is down in there near...". Another time I read about a body found by a jogger along a trail in Callahan State Forest and it was a trail I had just been on a few weeks earlier. And in these cases I think: I could find a body, why wasn't it me that found the body? After all I get out into some obscure corners of the woods that are rarely seen by anyone. I have joked about finding bodies in the woods. This morning I read (from the Lowell Sun):

"BOXBORO -- Boxboro police are asking for the public's help finding a 49-year-old man who has been missing since Friday afternoon.

Police have been searching for Konstantin Bykhovsky since Friday about 4:30 p.m., when he was last seen in the area of Burroughs Road at Chester Road.

Bykhovsky left his wallet and cell phone at home, and police say he suffers from a medical condition that may have left him in an altered mental state.

"He may appear confused or frightened," Sgt. Warren O'Brien said in a prepared statement.

Bykhovsky is described as a white male, about 5'8, 140 to 150 pounds, with balding, black hair and a thin build. He was last seen wearing a blue Patagonia jacket, dark-colored sweatpants, white socks and dark sneakers. He was also wearing a blue knit cap with a red stripe.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Boxboro Police immediately 978-263-2628."

So perhaps it was with this in mind that I decided to go revisit a site I knew in Boxborough, near Wolf Swamp. And as I walked along I kept my eyes open for a blue jacket. At one point a homeowner spotted me in the woods and came out to ask what I was doing - wondering if it was related to the missing man. I explained I was taking pictures of rock piles and showed him the ceremonial site that is on or next to his property. Some more of my exploration plan took me near houses and I decided to skip it with so many people keeping an eye on the woods.

So I drove down the road and stopped at a different entrance to Wolf Swamp on Old Harvard Rd. and walked back up the road a bit. I wanted to revisit another small site there before cutting down into the woods. A woman jogged by, as I am only a few feet from the road and asked: "Is the search still going on?". I said I was not searching for the missing man but taking pictures of rock piles. So that whole part of Boxborough is in an uproar about the missing person.

So I finish looking at the rock piles, reminding myself about the site layout, and then started cutting through the woods. And there is a blue jacket, scarf, gloves, and a hat in a tidy little pile on the snow. Was it a Patagonia jacket? Unsure if I should, I moved the scarf and hat to see that...sure enough...there is a Patagonia label. So I go back to the road (it is only about 50 feet) thinking I should probably call the police. The woman jogger is now coming back in the other direction and I say to her: "well you know...I actually just found a clue". She says I should call the Boxborough police; which I did, giving them my name and cellphone number. They dispatch someone.

A few minutes later a policeman arrives and I point out the blue jacket - which can be seen from the road. We chat and I say: "this locates him over here". Apparently they had been searching in another part of Boxborough. The policeman agrees and heads into the woods to look around more as I head back to my car. I turn around, drive back past the spot and now the policeman is back on the road. He motions to me, I roll down the window and he tells me the missing man is there and is "deceased" and asks me to pull over so they can ask me a few other questions. Another policemen - the "chief" arrives and I tell them I have been out walking and taking pictures for a couple of hours and explain how I came back up the road, took some pictures of rocks pile (did they want me to show them the piles? no...ok) and was just cutting through when I found the coat.

I guess they accepted my explanation because when I asked if it was morbid to want to see the body they discouraged me saying that this would now be treated as a crime scene. I made sure they had my contact information and they thanked me and I drove off.

One of the things you are kind of hoping to see until it actually happens. I am glad I did not spot the body, but at the same time I am kicking myself for missing it since it was no more than 20 feet from where I found the pile of clothes. A sad sort of merit badge: find body in woods....check.

Footprints: As soon as I stepped into the woods this morning I saw tracks. I was surprised there were any in the first patch of woods and then remembered the missing person and thought they could have been theirs. But, continuing, everywhere I went in the woods there were pretty fresh footprints in the snow and I realized belatedly that these must have been from the searchers. The searchers had been everywhere that I went. So how come they missed that one spot only ~50 feet from Old Harvard Rd?

You can make out the rock piles (they are smeared) in the foreground at the end of this video from FOX News:

Update (from WickedLocal the next day):

"Searchers used pattern and grid searches, focusing on areas where Bykhovsky often walked.

Sunday morning, a passerby spotted Bykhovsky's blue jacket off of Old Harvard Road. The jacket had been removed, and searchers soon found Bykhovsky's body with no shoes. Ryder explained that people suffering from hypothermia often feel sudden hot flashes and remove their clothes."

You can make out the rock piles (they are smeared) in the foreground at the end of this video from FOX News: [click here]


Chris Pittman said...

Interesting story! A grim find, certainly.

theseventhgeneration said...

My condolences to the man's family. So sad. The Fox story I found (My Fox Boston) said you ("A man") were on a nature hike. It looks like they caught a stone wall in their video at 50 seconds.

Anonymous said...

A sad ending but you helped bring closure. May he rest in peace.

Old Hindi Songs said...

Nice post...

pwax said...

I want to make the point that the man died at a rock pile site.

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