Crime Watch 8

Man’s body found at Eagle Creek Park; death ‘doesn’t appear natural’

UPDATE: The Marion County Coroner’s Office has identified the man as 33-year-old Matthew Mattingly.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A man’s body was found Sunday afternoon in a ditch toward the reservoir at Eagle Creek Park, and the death “doesn’t appear natural,” police said.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was called about 3:40 p.m. Sunday to a “death investigation/natural or unknown cause” in a portion of the park on the west side of Eagle Creek Reservoir along Sunnyhill Road off West 56th Street. Officers and investigators gathered in the parking lot featuring the the Galyan’s Bear sculpture and at the entry to the Eagle’s Crest Trail.

A hiker found the man’s body, said Samone Burris, a public-information officer with IMPD. Officers said the man was unresponsive with trauma. Brownsburg Fire Territory medics pronounced the man dead at the scene.

Anyone who was in the area earlier Sunday or who might have information was asked to contact the IMPD homicide detective Jesus Soria Jr. at 317-327-3475 or jesus.soriajr@indy.gov.

Two hours after police were called to the area, they found, marked and photographed about two dozen items believed to have been connected to the man or possibly a suspect. “Investigators are currently trying to gather that information to determine why that body was in this area,” Burris said.

Detectives hope to determine whether it’s a homicide, a suicide or something else, Burris said.

The public information officer said in an initial email to notify the media, “IMPD officers responded to 8340 W 56th Street on report of a Death Investigation that preliminary doesn’t appear natural.”

Police had received no reports of gunfire in the area, Burris said. No witnesses have come forward. No weapons were found in the area. Police were unsure how the man arrived at the park. However, a tip from another hiker, who saw something unusual along one of the trails, led police to a section of the park that is typically closed to the public.

As Indianapolis approaches 200 homicides for the year and is on pace to shatter last year’s record-breaking homicide numbers, the department’s investigators are stretched thin. Prior to this year, an IMPD homicide detective might work 7-12 cases a year; this year, they are working 7-12 cases a month or more.

“Pushing almost 200 homicides within in Indianapolis is unacceptable. It is heartbreaking. It is heart-wrenching, and our community continues to the feel the aftermath of those homicides each an every homicide across our city,” the public-information officer said.

“We have all seen the news reports, continuous violence, unnecessary violence within our city, and our homicide investigators are feeling the weight of what that feels like. Cases on top of cases that have to be investigated, and they all have to be investigated with precision and detail, so that becomes overwhelming when you get 12, 15 within a month. That is a lot to deal with,” Burris said. 

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