CHICAGO (STMW) — An elderly Midlothian resident who had been missing since November was found dead this month in a pile of tree branches at a south suburban Oak Forest park, authorities said.
An Oak Forest Park District employee was spraying for weeds Oct. 10 along a small creek next to a playground at the park in the 15500 block of Waverly Avenue and saw what appeared to be two human legs sticking out from a bundle of tree branches, police said.
Edwin Stahl, of the 15000 block of Harding Avenue, died of unknown causes. An autopsy was inconclusive, pending further studies, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
It said the remains were largely skeletonized, which made it difficult for authorities to immediately identify the body, which was discovered about 11/2 miles from his home.
Family members could not immediately be reached for comment..
Stahl, a World War II veteran, last was seen Nov. 16, two days shy of his 89th birthday, vanishing after being discharged from Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.
The park district worker told police that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District had cleared a log jam from the creek a week before he discovered the body, only about 20 yards from the playground at Waverly Creekside Park.
The portion of the creek where the body was found is close to Cicero Avenue, stretches only about a city block and is bordered by 156th Street and Waverly Avenue to the south and 155th Street and Kilpatrick Avenue to the north.
The worker told police that he first saw what appeared to be a human foot covered with only a sock. As he looked closer, he saw a second leg with a black shoe. The body’s left hand was missing. Firefighters were called to the scene and extricated the body from the debris field.
An autopsy showed no signs of foul play, and police said Stahl’s wallet still had money inside.
Stahl’s nephew, Hubert Downs, told the SouthtownStar in February that he dropped his uncle off at the hospital to have his ear examined. Stahl recently had been treated for skin cancer in the ear.
When Downs called the hospital Nov. 17, he learned that his uncle had been discharged the day before. Downs said it was not unusual for Stahl to take a bus or train home from the hospital.
When Stahl didn’t come straight home, Downs said he thought his uncle might have splurged on a motel room to celebrate his birthday. When he still failed to return home, Downs reported him missing Nov. 25.
Hospital staff told Midlothian police at the time of the disappearance that Stahl had shown some signs of paranoia during previous visits, but his family said he still was mentally alert and had not been diagnosed with any mental or memory problems.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2014. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)