Athens police investigate man’s body found in woods near Decatur Pike

Athens, Tennessee, police have identified a body found Monday in a wooded area along Decatur Pike, but so far investigators have more questions than answers.

The man was identified Tuesday as Tommy R. Lipps, of Athens, city Police Chief Fred Schultz said in an email. He didn't provide further details.

The body was reported at 2:40 p.m. Monday and was located by officers near the corner of Clark Street and Decatur Pike, according to a Police Department news release. The site is in a busy area of town surrounded by commercial businesses and private residences. Officers on the scene confirmed the man was deceased, according to the release.

(READ MORE: Authorities seek Cleveland, Tennessee, man missing since March 30)

Representatives from the medical examiner's office in Knox County responded to the location, and the body was transported for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of his death, authorities said.

No determination has been made as to whether foul play was involved, Schultz said Tuesday.

(READ MORE: TBI investigating after body found behind Piggly Wiggly in Etowah, Tennessee)

Lipps wasn't on the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation's active list of missing adults. NamUs -- the National Missing and Unidentified Person System, which serves as a repository and resource center for missing, unidentified and unclaimed missing person cases across the U.S. -- lists only one long-term missing person case in McMinn County. Riceville resident James Harvey Stewart, a white man with brown hair and blue eyes, was 45 years old when he was last seen in 2005 or 2006.

The investigation into Lipps' cause of death is ongoing, the chief said.

Contact Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

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