EDMONDS — In the photo, he’s listening to the same earbuds he wore six weeks later, when he was found dead in Yost Park.
He wore the same tan hiking boots, carried the same three backpacks and pushed the same mountain bike, with a gray cargo box fastened above the rear wheel by two bungee cords — one red, one yellow. Passersby came across the body Nov. 10 along the wooded trails a mile east of the Edmonds waterfront.
He’d likely been deceased two to four weeks. He took his own life, according to the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Police still haven’t determined the man’s name.
Last month detectives asked for tips from the public. They got at least one good, new lead. It’s a picture of a man that police believe is the Yost Park John Doe, alive, on Main Street, within a couple of blocks of the park. A local resident snapped the photo by chance Sept. 30, unsure if the man was the suspect in a possible crime in the neighborhood, Edmonds detective Andy Mehl said.
It turned out that no, this anonymous man was not the criminal. So the neighbor deleted the picture. Or at least tried to.
Over two months later, the neighbor read a newspaper story saying detectives were trying to identify the dead man. He dug through his deleted files, found the photo and came forward to police. Only part of the left side of the man’s face is visible — but it’s a better idea of how he looked, compared to what police had before.
On that overcast September day, the man pushed a Scott Boulder mountain bike with mismatched wheels and a seat protected by a white plastic bag. The bicycle was one of the few clues left behind at the man’s camp, six weeks later.
His backpacks and pockets did not hold a driver’s license, a receipt or a prescription bottle. His only belongings were clothes, canned food and basic necessities. He’d been dressed in layers. His shirts were all different sizes. On top was a dark Boeing jacket with a red stamp-like logo on the left breast pocket. It says, “100 percent committed” and “FOD free,” an acronym used in aviation. Under that he wore a size XXL vest; a purple-and-gold University of Washington sweater, size large; and a small light blue T-shirt for the job search site Indeed.
Just about everything appeared to match the man in the photo. The same head of thick, short silver hair. The same bike helmet. The same red-and-white jacket was later found in one of the packs. He stood 5-foot-9. He weighed 145 pounds.
He may have family out there wondering what became of him.
Until police find his name, there’s no way to know.
Tips can be directed to detective Andy Mehl at 425-771-0285.
Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; email@example.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Counselors are available anytime at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. Care Crisis Chat serves Western Washington at 800-584-3578, or imhurting.org.