The body of an 18-year-old Colorado man who was reported missing seven years ago was found in the chimney of an abandoned cabin less than one mile from his home, officials said Wednesday.
Authorities had to use dental records to identify the remains as those of Joshua Vernon Maddux, who was reported missing in May 2008 but not as a runaway, reports Fox News.
Coroner Al Born speculated that Maddux was trying to shimmy down the chimney when he got stuck. His death was ruled accidental.
“There was no indication of trauma that we could detect,” Born said. “It was likely accidental because there would be easier ways to commit suicide than climbing down a chimney.”
Maddux was last seen alive on the morning of May 8, 2008, at the house he shared with his parents, according to a missing person alert sent out by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
When his mother came home later that day, Maddux was gone and was later reported missing, police said.
In the alert, authorities described Maddux as 6 feet tall and weighing 150 pounds. Born said Maddux may have gotten stuck as he shimmied down the chimney for reasons that will likely never be known.
The remains were found by a demolition crew that was tearing down the cabin, which was abandoned long before Maddux died, Born said.
The owner of the cabin Chuck Murphy, said he rarely visited the cabin over the last 10 years.
“It smelled bad,” he told The Gazette, adding that a large piece of furniture blocked the fireplace and there was never a reason to look inside.
Maddux’s family say they are now grateful for the opportunity to properly lay him to rest after years of searching.
“This is certainly not the outcome that the Maddux family and my brother Josh’s many friends and loved ones were hoping for,” sister Kate said in a statement.
“Given the strange circumstances, it may be a miracle that Josh has finally been found.”