What are the odds that an off-duty state trooper out for a woodland stroll would discover the body of a missing elderly man that the trooper and several colleagues spent much of the spring trying to find?
"About a billion to one," said Sgt. Greg Cameron of the Maryland State Police barracks in Prince Frederick--but that's exactly what happened last Friday.
Cameron was out checking his deer stands in preparation for hunting season when he discovered skeletal remains believed to be those of Enoch Benjamin Booth, 84, a Chesapeake Beach man missing since Feb. 12.
Booth was last seen about 9 a.m. that day at the 7-Eleven convenience store in Dunkirk, where he had his morning coffee. Booth was living at the home of one of his daughters in Chesapeake Beach.
After Booth disappeared, search and rescue personnel from the Maryland State Police, the Prince Frederick Volunteer Rescue Squad and Southern Maryland Search and Rescue Dogs conducted three large-scale searches along Route 260 in February and early March. They also dragged a nearby pond.
Cameron came upon the skeletal remains in a densely wooded area on a farm near the intersection of Routes 2 and 260 near Owings about 8:30 a.m. Friday. Booth's ex-wife rents a house on that property, and Cameron said Booth may have been taking a shortcut through the woods toward her house when he died.
Investigators found a wallet with Booth's driver's license at the scene. Clothing found with the remains matched what Booth was wearing at the time he disappeared, Cameron said.
A cause of death is not yet known, but Cameron and other investigators do not suspect foul play.
Police are awaiting further forensic tests by the state medical examiner's office before they can positively identify the body as Booth's, Cameron said.