Human remains found in Fort Deposit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 22, 2003

Authorities in Lowndes County are awaiting forensic investigation to determine the identity of a body found in Fort Deposit Thursday morning. It is believed that the body may be that of David Fondren, a Fort Deposit resident who has been missing since Mar. 18, 2003, when he was last seen wearing khaki pants, a khaki shirt and white tennis shoes.

John Andrews, district attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit, which includes Lowndes County, said on Thursday that the body was located thanks to the skill and training of a specialized K-9 agency, "Search Dogs" from Lapine.

"Those girls have some talented dogs," Andrews said. "We would not have located the body with the assistance of Debbie Goebels and her partner, along with their dog team."

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Andrews said the body was found in an abandoned warehouse on the Ellis Street Extension in Fort Deposit, known to locals as the Norman Warehouse. The building, which is severely dilapidated, has not been occupied in nearly 25 years. It was last used as a cotton warehouse.

"The Alabama Bureau of Investigation (ABI) has been working on the missing person case of David Fondren since his disappearance," Andrews said. "We don't at this point know if the body found is Fondren, because it was in such a state of decomposition."

Andrews also said the body was taken to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, where it will be processed for identification.

"I imagine they will have to utilize many different techniques, including the comparison of dental records, to identify the body," Andrews said. "It was in an area of the building that is actually very unsafe. The roof has caved in throughout the building, and is held up by stacked wooden pallets in one area."

Andrews said the body was lying on its right side, in what he called a "fetal" position.

"We cannot rule out foul play in the cause of death at this time," he said. "It will also have to be determined by Forensic Sciences."

As reported by Greenville Newspapers in March following his disappearance, his car, a black-colored vehicle, was parked near the Trayco building by officers on patrol. It was found with the keys still in the ignition, and the driver's window was open.

The Trayco building housed a potato-shipping warehouse operated by Fondren's sister and her husband until approximately five years ago.

Andrews said the investigation has been conducted through the cooperation of several agencies in addition to the District Attorney's office.

"The ABI, Lowndes County Sheriff's Department, Fort Deposit Police Department and Search Dogs have all worked together on this case," Andrews said. "The case was originally being handled by an agent at ABI that has since retired, and it has been picked up by Agent Lynn Rhodes, who brought the dog team in to further proceed in the investigation."