Body found in metal shed in Fort Dodge

Odor led to discovery; body sent to state for autopsy

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Fort Dodge police Detective Larry Hedlund and police Lt. Joe Bates work at the scene where a body was found in a shed Tuesday. The body was found at 1216 First Ave. N.

A strong odor led to the discovery of a dead body in a shed behind a vacant house in Fort Dodge Tuesday evening, prompting an investigation involving police and the Webster County medical examiner’s office.

The body was found at 1216 First Ave. N. Neighbors who discovered it called police at about 7:30 p.m.

Firefighters wearing self-contained breathing apparatus and protective suits normally used at hazardous materials emergencies removed the body from the shed.

Mark Gargano, the deputy medical examiner, said the body was “pretty decomposed.” He said he could not determine its gender, or if it had any significant injuries.

He said the body will be sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Ankeny for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.

-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Fort Dodge firefighters don protective suits and self-contained breathing apparatus before removing a body from a shed at 1216 First Ave. N. Tuesday evening.

“We’ll let the state make those determinations,” he said.

Joe McDonald, whose home in the 1200 block of Second Avenue North is just across an alley from the First Avenue North site where the body was found, said he didn’t know anything was wrong until he saw police officers from his kitchen window.

He said he never noticed the odor that prompted other neighbors to call police.

He said officers told him that they believed the individual had “been dead for awhile.”

McDonald said the house at 1216 First Ave. N. has been vacant for more than three months.

The house is owned by M & D Enterprises Inc., of Fort Dodge, according to online records of the Webster County assessor’s office.

A torn orange notice that city inspectors post to notify property owners of code violations was still on the home’s front door Tuesday evening.

The body was in a metal shed in the backyard.

It was removed from the scene at about 8:45 p.m.

Paramedics from UnityPoint Health — Trinity Regional Medical Center were on the scene along with Gargano, police and firefighters.