So, ever find a body?

Have you or anyone you know ever found a human corpse that was not a family member.

I ask because watching shows where people stumble upon corpses it strikes me that this has to be a traumatic experience.

Yes, in Amsterdam back in 1971. I and a friend were spending a day and night in Amsterdam for a plane change during a trip back from an engineering job in Nigeria. We were taking a stroll thru the city in the early afternoon, and stopped to enjoy the scenery at a canal barge terminal alongside one of the canals. There was a little holding basin next to the terminal, and on looking down into it we both immediately saw an evidently drowned corpse floating in the water. I remember vividly that he was dressed in what appeared to be a nice blue suit, and with a wedding ring on one finger.

After a few seconds we went into the terminal and using sign language (pretty easy and straightforward for this particular purpose), told the attendant that he had an unsolicited visitor in his holding basin.

We then made tracks out of there, having plane tickets for early the next morning and not wishing in the slightest to get mixed up in the Dutch justice system. About two blocks from the basin we could hear a bunch of approaching sirens.

It was all so surreal and impersonal that neither of us felt very much about the situation. We would have liked to find out who the ufortunate gentleman had been and why he was floating there, but there was no way that we could figure out to do this.

BTW, at least in those days those canals were very polluted. I also remenber that the little basin that we had just inspected also had several dozen junk bicycles barely visible within its depths.

Can’t say I have, but I once thought I had…for a panicky 20 seconds or so. I was working for an agribusiness firm, had been sent to inspect a farmer’s field. Pushing through the corn, which was higher than my head, I spied about 10 feet away the body of a young child, torn clothes, face down in the mud. “Children of the Corn” flashed through my mind and I had to remind myself to start breathing again. Edging closer, I discovered it was a large, lifesized and very life(less)- like doll. A kid’s abandoned toy. I hate it when people leave things like that lying around!

Judging from the way I felt at the time, I sincerely hope I never have the misfortune to stumble over the real thing.

Moving to MPSIMS from General Questions.

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I thought I did once, when I was about 10. My cousin & I were out riding our bikes and behind a local bar, there was a man lying in the weeds, arms and legs all askew. We panicked & rode home, telling my mom there was a dean man behind the bar. She loaded us into the car and drove over…

…to find the ‘dead man’ sitting up with a bottle of booze in his hand.

One of my mother’s friends had a son who once found a body. This was in the early 60’s, in Spring Valley (San Diego suburb). My Mom told everybody about how Ricky (age eleven) had come home for dinner after spending the afternoon with his pals. His Mother offhandedly asked him what he’d done that day, and he answered with “Nothing much. We found an old dead body.” (For you San Diegans: They had been roaming around on the south face of Dictionary Hill, which at the time was still wild except for a street or two that had been put in anticipation of the development that came several years later. No street signs, no structures.) I remember that the boys led the sheriffs back to the corpse, which apparently had been there for a while, but I’ve forgotten anything else.

What struck Ricky’s mother and her friends was his matter-of-fact disinterest, as if “an old dead body” was just another day’s find, barely worth mentioning.


A but of femur, hip and skull while doing an underwater clear-up after the 2004 tsunami.

We had these assignments in French class where once a week everyone had to talk about a news article in French or describe something that had happened to them recently.

One day, one of my classmates came in and told us how he had been driving along a fairly major road in our area over the weekend when he spotted what he thought was someone passed out on the side of the road. He pulled over and went to investigate and found that it was a middle-aged guy and he was dead. He had apparently collapsed while walking. My classmate called 911 to report it and the police later estimated that the guy had been lying there at least 15 minutes before anyone stopped to check on him. Who knows if maybe one of the probably dozens if not hundreds of cars that passed by during that time had stopped, maybe there would have been some hope of saving him?

I never stop for debris or broken down vehicles while I’m driving, but if I thought I saw someone collapsed on the shoulder? Yeah, that would get me to stop.

Not me but my husband has had the bad luck to find four, no he is not a serial killer.
The first when he was 13 and skipping school with some friends. They were sitting on the embankment to the large dam in town and kind of digging around when they found a glass topped coffin with a well preserved body of a boy about 12 in it. The police concluded by the age of the coffin and clothes that his family was probably one of the early pioneers going through on the Oregon trail and that the coffin was scooped up when the dam was built.
The second was a driver from the same trucking company he worked for. Several trucks were going through Nevada kind of spaced out talking on the Cbs. This guy stopped talking and then my husband came up on his truck off the side of the road. He’d had a heart attack and was already dead when my husband found him.
Third was also a driver but not one he knew. When he pulled up to park for the night he noticed the guy in the next truck asleep in his seat, he thought. The next morning the guy hadn’t moved and my husband after knocking on the door opened it and found he was dead. Another heart attack.
The fourth he was headed home in his truck, and about 15 miles from town is a particularly bad stretch of road called Cold Water Hill. Lots of wrecks every year. It was the wee hours of the morning and the freeway was deserted. He started to notice debris on the road he came up on a car that had rolled and a 19 year old boy who was far beyond help. He called the police and stayed with the body until they came. Is it any wonder he doesn’t want to drive long haul any longer?

When I was in college, I lived in a rooming house. One of my housemates hanged himself in his room, and I discovered the body. I had also been the last person to speak with him, the night before.

Yes, it was a traumatic experience.

Why the sign language? Dutchmen generally speak English.

Let’s see…

Well, one day on my way to work during a cold Chicago winter I happened upon a man frozen to death on the sidewalk outside an El stop (It was early morning, before dawn, so presumably not a lot of traffic yet at that spot, and it was just getting light enough to see him). I went in to tell the El station attendant there was a deceased person outside and asked her to call 911, as this was before the days of cell phones. It wasn’t traumatic, just sad.

Traumatic was having bits of a guy sprayed all over the train I was riding after said train hit the guy at full speed. That was traumatic and messy. Dead guy frozen on the sidewalk? Not so bad, peaceful, neat… just sad.

When I worked at a clinic we discovered one day one of the elderly patients had died while waiting in the waiting room. We staff were more concerned with panic erupting in the other people waiting than anything else. The gentleman in question was sitting, leaning against the wall, very peaceful, and I didn’t find that traumatic, either - just a bit sad but he’d had a long life and when the end came it had clearly been quick and without a lot of drama.

So… no, I don’t think finding a body is inherently traumatic, it has more to do with the circumstances surrounding the discovery.

With my former doctor I always figured that was the way I would go, and that I wouldn’t be found for hours.

I never have, but I think about it every time I’m walking in the woods.

When my uncle was a boy, he found a body floating in a river. He said it looked like the man had been hit by a boat propeller, and that crabs had eaten away his lips.

That’s what all the spouses say.

I took my daughter to a birthday party once and stayed to help out. At some point we went into the back yard so the kids could play. The wind shifted and everyone could smell something putrid. I went next to the next door house’s yard to see if there was a dead dog or something.

There was nothing in the yard, but the smell was intense. I walked up to the back porch, knocked on the door, and could see someone laying on the kitchen floor. We called the cops and the kids’ parents. Crappy timing; parents were arriving as the paramedics/coroner were taking the neighbor.

My dad did, recently. A worker at the warehouse he works at was using a forklift alone, and did something unsafe (unsure exactly what), and was pinned to the wall and crushed. Apparently, he was a pretty good friend of my dad’s, and he found the body. Rough, man…


I knew a woman who would not join us for hiking, or any other outdoor activities, saying she was afraid to go near the woods because she was certain she would find a dead body.

I don’t know if she ever did find a dead body, but she apparently thought about it a lot and let it affect her choices.

Wow. My friend and I sometimes walk in the woods and the friend has brought it up, like “Has anyone ever found a body in here?”–inspired by a particularly putrid smell one day–but I certainly have never worried about it that much.

Yes, but I had to do a lot of digging first.

What, that doesn’t count?