The image was shocking: two denim-clad, lifeless legs poking up through trash-choked ice in an abandoned warehouse.
Investigators who took three 911 calls over two days before finally going out to retrieve the body will now try to figure out what killed the man, whose death has become another symbol of Detroit's decay and indifference.
“Most of us grew up with this,” said Mike Corbin, 34, pointing toward the old warehouse and dilapidated train depot nearby. “It's depressing.”
Investigators are looking into reports that a group of urban adventurers who get their kicks exploring Detroit's crumbling buildings and at least one homeless man had seen the man's body, but didn't call police.
Detroit is a tough town, often described as gritty, hard-knuckled, a survivor. Its post-World War II population soared to more than 1.8 million. Many of the 900,000 people who now call it home lived through Detroit's days as the country's “murder capital” when more than 700 people were slain in 1974.
Now they are slogging through the worst economy in its history as Detroit ranks among the nation's leaders in unemployment and home foreclosures. Restructuring by the slumping U.S. auto industry promises to leave many more jobless.
“When you hear somebody say it's a dead body near a train station, you say ‘and?'” said Bianca Glenn, 28.
Detroit News reporter Charlie LeDuff found the body after receiving a tip that it was at the bottom of a submerged elevator shaft at the Roosevelt Warehouse. A homeless man camped a few yards from the shaft where the body lay, but didn't report it to authorities, LeDuff wrote.
Police spokesman James Tate disputes LeDuff's account that officers failed to respond Tuesday afternoon when he called 911 to report the body. LeDuff wasn't clear on the location of the body, Tate said.
LeDuff wrote that it took two more calls Wednesday to 911 before firefighters and police arrived, he wrote.