Remains found Monday thought to be those of missing area man

November 18, 2009

Paul Morse
The Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton police say they have not yet identified a body found at Dundas Peak but strongly suspect it is missing Greensville man David Skarratt.

A forensic pathologist and coroner's experts spent much of yesterday trying to identify badly decomposed remains of a man found just below Dundas Peak on Monday.

"We are working from old dental records and other methods of identification but have not yet made an identification," said Detective Sergeant Tom Andrew, head of the Mountain detectives bureau, yesterday.

"We are exploring the possibility that it may be Mr. Skarratt. We hope to be able to bring closure for his family."

Skarratt disappeared from his family's Forest Avenue home near Webster's Falls on Sept. 15. Specialized search and rescue crews scoured the area several times and turned up various articles belonging to Skarratt, including his journal and cellphone.

Yesterday, Andrew said it appears the body's location made it next to impossible to be spotted.

"The body was 30 feet below the sheer vertical cliff face of Dundas Peak, and another 10 feet down a near-vertical slope," he said.

"To have seen it from the top, one would have to lie down on one's stomach and hang way out over the precipice."

The body could not be reached from the bottom of the slope.

After Skarratt's disappearance, searchers used a cadaver dog directly above where the body was found Monday afternoon, but Andrew said the body's distance from the peak and the strong air currents along the cliff face likely would have prevented the dog from catching any scent.

Two months later, a hiker walking along the bottom of Spencer's Gorge smelled the unmistakable smell of a decomposing body and scrambled up far enough to see something under the leaves.

Police hope to identify the body in the next several days, and, in the absence of other information, continue to treat the case as suspicious.

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