082719 flowers-tm.jpg

Karen Bach takes a picture of a vase of flowers near the irrigation canal near Fourth and Catlin streets on Monday afternoon. Missoula law enforcement recovered a body in the canal just behind the flowers on Saturday morning.

The deaths of two people whose bodies were discovered in Missoula city and county on Saturday likely aren't related, Missoula County Undersheriff Rich Maricelli said Monday. 

Missoula police on Saturday morning removed a body lodged under a log in a canal near Fourth Street and Catlin. A nearby property owner checked out the small body of water because of a putrid smell; police believe the body, which was identified as male, had been there several days before it was discovered. A small bouquet of purple flowers had been left near the canal Monday morning.

Saturday night, a man mowing a field behind the shuttered Smurfit-Stone mill site near Frenchtown came across another body. Investigators took to the scene there Sunday.

"There's no physical evidence that ties these people together, there are just different circumstances," Maricelli said.

You have free articles remaining.

Become a Member

Maricelli said it's possible the body found near the Smurfit site may have been there for months. The gender has not been determined.

"Right now we're trying to narrow down the time frame, when the last time it was mowed back there, and that might be going back as far as July or May," he said. 

Both city and county law enforcement are awaiting results from medical examiners and the Montana State Crime lab to determine identities and causes of death. Missoula police are "absolutely" going to explore open missing persons cases that could turn up answers in the city case, according to Public Information Officer Sgt. Travis Welsh.

"Right now we don't know if we have an accidental death or a homicide," he said. "Decomposition was at such a point that making those identities was difficult."