CHINA GROVE, N.C. (TCD) -- A 34-year-old man was found dead at a vacant property after a groundskeeper reportedly mowed the lawn around his body because he allegedly assumed the victim was a Halloween decoration.
According to WBTV-TV, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, China Grove Police Department officers went to a home on Shue Road after receiving a call about the discovery of a body. China Grove Police Chief Andrew Deal reportedly said in a statement, "At this time, there is no sign of foul play, but the case is being investigated as suspicious."
NBC News reports police positively identified the man as Robert Paul Owens. Police said a groundskeeper was mowing the lawn near an abandoned cabin Monday, Oct. 9, and saw the body. The groundskeeper reportedly mowed around Owens because he allegedly thought Owens’ corpse was "a fake dummy used for training" by law enforcement officials who used the property.
Then, the next day, a construction worker reportedly discovered Owens' remains and contacted police.
Owens’ sister, Haley Shue, told NBC News the construction worker found him "face down in his underwear and socks with one arm under him, one arm out."
The construction worker reportedly told Shue the groundskeeper thought Owens "was Halloween décor or a mannequin and I guess he took it upon himself to assume that and not verify and mowed the entire property."
Owens reportedly last made contact with his family Oct. 8. He spent time with a friend and then reportedly got a ride back to his grandmother’s house on Shue Road. He left later to see another friend but never returned.
According to NBC News, China Grove Police informed Owens' family he did not die from a gunshot wound, though they did not elaborate on his cause of death or where on the property his body was found.
Shue told NBC News, "That’s something we have to live with, knowing no family ever identified him. No family got to say any final goodbyes to him."
She shared with WJZY-TVthat her kids "love him" and that he recently purchased a jacket for her son.
"He didn't even have a chance to give it to him," Shue said. "We want answers."