McCONNELSVILLE, Ohio - Officials have tentatively identified a body found burning alongside a Morgan County road Thursday morning but are withholding his name pending notification of the man's family.
The death is being investigated as a homicide, said Morgan County Sheriff Thomas Jenkins on Friday.
According to the 911 phone call, the body was still on fire when it was discovered shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday by utility employees who were working on trees along County Road 15 in Union Township.
"We went to turn around on East Branch Road (County Road 15) and there is a dead body burning," a caller told the 911 dispatcher.
"It's a human body?" asked the dispatcher.
The workers had stopped for a closer look, said the caller.
"It's a male 'cause one of our other crews stopped and looked at it, and he said it looks to be a male," he said.
The Morgan County Sheriff's Office responded and found the remains on County Road 15, between Ohio 555 and Hambel Road, said Jenkins.
"It's a remote wooded area. There are no buildings. It's just a wide spot," he said.
The body itself was not far from the road, which is regularly traveled, he said.
The body and ashes were sent to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office. A tentative identification was made through a fingerprints match, said the release.
The Morgan County Sheriff's Office has heavily scoured the area surrounding where the body was found, said Jenkins. However, no weapons, vehicles, clothing or other material evidence have been found.
"There is absolutely nothing there. We searched it completely," he said.
There are no missing persons in Morgan or Washington counties. Calls to the Athens County and Perry County Sheriff's offices were not returned Friday.
The Malta and McConnelsville Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation responded to the scene.
If the man's death is ruled a homicide and it occurred in Morgan County, it will be the county's second murder in just more than a year.
On June 20, 2012, the badly decomposed body of 36-year-old John Davis III, of Plain City, was found deep in a remote wooded area of Windsor Township.
Morgan County resident Timmy Stevens, 40, was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison, with parole eligibility after 36 years, for Davis' June 12 murder at a home along Morgan County Road 2.