“It's who we thought it was all along. He did die of blunt-force trauma to the head, so we are continuing this as a homicide investigation.”
Human remains exhumed from a Winchester, Tenn., home's yard last week have now been identified as those of a man who lived there.
The body found in the backyard of a home on Spring Hill Drive has been identified as that of 50-year-old James Leon Wood, who was reported missing Jan. 18 and had not been heard from since July 29, 2017.
Winchester Police Chief Richard Lewis said preliminary results of a forensic examination performed Friday at the state medical examiner's office in Nashville confirmed the body's identity as Wood's.
"It's who we thought it was all along," Lewis said Tuesday. "He did die of blunt-force trauma to the head, so we are continuing this as a homicide investigation."
Wood's body, wrapped in a sheet or blanket, was found buried under a 5-by-8-foot concrete slab, positioned several feet away from an above-ground pool in the home's backyard. The slab had been poured over the grave, Lewis said. A search warrant linked to the original missing person investigation led to the discovery of the man's body about 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 24.
The activity of digging the grave, burying the body and pouring the concrete slab over it "apparently didn't attract any of the neighbors' attention," Lewis said.
Wood's white 1988 Ford F150, identified in the missing person report along with his physical description, was impounded in Grundy County "on an unrelated matter," he said.
The chief said authorities can't discuss any persons of interest at this point in the investigation, though he said officials want to talk to people thought to have been living in the house at some time since Wood bought it.
Tennessee property records list the property as belonging to the deceased man and "Glenna Y. Wood," according to purchaser information in state records. The property purchase was made in June 2017.
Lewis said last week Wood's body had been buried for "probably about five months."
Meanwhile, anyone with any information on the case should contact the Winchester Police Department at 931-967-3840.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at email@example.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.
Updated to reflect police chief Richard Lewis' full name.