August 27, 1997 in City

Body Discovered On East Side Pop Can Collector Finds Corpse; Authorities Suspect Homicide

By The Spokesman-Review

A man looking for pop cans in east Spokane on Tuesday discovered a body in an overgrown lot, and police launched a homicide investigation.

Detectives do not know the identity of the victim or the cause of death.

“The body was decomposed to the point that we’re not even certain if it’s a male or a female,” said Lt. Jerry Oien, commander of the major crimes unit. “We’re not sure of the nationality, either.”

Detectives hope an autopsy, scheduled this morning, will provide answers, Oien said.

An unidentified man found the body about 11 a.m. under a tree behind Atwood-Hinzman Consulting Engineers, 1819 E. Springfield.

He had been looking for discarded aluminum cans to sell at a nearby recycling business, police said.

The corpse, concealed in high grass behind a group of large metal bins, probably had been there for several days, police said.

The area where the body was discovered gets little foot traffic and is not visible from the street.

Investigators found dried blood in the corner of a nearby parking lot and evidence that someone had dragged the body up a short embankment to where it was hidden.

That leads detectives to believe the victim died violently, maybe in the parking lot, Oien said.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo Map of area where body found

MEMO: The body was identified as Heather L. Hernandez.

The body was identified as Heather L. Hernandez.

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