Missing man found dead under his home - FOX Carolina 21

Missing man found dead under his home

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PENDLETON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

A 75-year-old Upstate man reported missing in June was found dead under his duplex on Wednesday.

Officials said James Thomas of Pendleton suffered from dementia, schizophrenia and was recovering from pneumonia.

The sheriff said Thomas was found in the crawl space under his the home at 719 Long Rd.

Investigators said they had searched under the home before, but never found Thomas' body because it was so far back in the crawl space and blocked from view by brick pillars and insulation.

The woman who lives next door to the Thomas family in the duplex said she smelled a foul odor today and called Thomas' son.

Officials said Thomas' son crawled under the home and found his father.

The coroner, Greg Shore, said Thomas' body was badly decomposed, but he did point out that the crawl space was a good amount cooler (only in the low 70's) than what the temperatures have been outside recently. Shore said the cooler air, plus the humidity likely helped to preserve Thomas' body, and that could be why it took so long for the neighbor to smell any foul odor.

Sheriff Skipper says crews, including SLED agents with K-9 units, searched under every duplex, and that the crawl space was one of the first places Thomas' son looked the very first day.

"(Thomas' son) shined his light through there, called for his dad," said Sheriff Skipper. "There's quite a bit of space under there and it's very cluttered; he was comfortable that his dad wasn't under there, obviously."

"Unusual things do happen to people that have dementia," said Shore. "They wander off; they show up in unusual places. So it was just unfortunate that he was this close from his loved ones, and they were search for so many days."

Thomas' family told investigators they were very thankful to the community, who spent countless hours helping to search for their father.

An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday to determine just exactly how James Thomas died.

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