Local authorities are still investigating the death of a homeless man whose remains were found last month near Pitts Park in Clarkesville. The Habersham County Sheriff’s Office released a statement Monday saying, “The case remains under investigation pending receipt of the entire crime lab report and findings regarding cause of death.”
On Sunday, October 25, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed the remains found near the park on September 10 are those of Shane Justice. The State Medical Examiner’s Office is waiting on more test results from the autopsy to determine how he died, says Habersham County Coroner Kasey McEntire.
Weeks of waiting
The information released Sunday by the GBI did not come as a surprise as family members had long suspected it was Justice. He had been living near the park for several months before he disappeared. He was last seen alive on August 1.
Justice’s estranged wife and a family friend discovered the heavily decomposed remains forty days later on the upstream north side of Judge Homer Sutton Bridge on GA-197 North. Law enforcement, family, and friends had searched in the vicinity previously.
The Georgia Emergency Management Agency brought in a cadaver dog at the request of local authorities and searched the week before the remains were found, according to Habersham County Sheriff’s Lt. Matthew Wurtz.
The sheriff’s office launched an investigation treating it as a suspicious death, but the coroner’s office said at the time there were no signs of foul play. “All deaths are treated as suspicious until you actually know what happened, and, at this point, we don’t know,” explained Wurtz.
A makeshift memorial of flowers remains on the bridge near the site where Justice’s remains were found. Justice would have turned 43 on October 18.
McEntire voiced the feelings of many in this small rural Georgia community when he told Now Habersham, “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family and friends through this journey.”