By Moira Blazi
On Saturday night, July 7, the folks at Pioneer Auto got a routine call from the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to haul away an abandoned vehicle registered to Ray Osborn, who had been arrested for a 24/7 violation.
They arrived with the tow truck at Cabinet Peaks Medical Center’s parking lot, on what was, by all indications, a mundane Saturday night call. It was about 7 p.m., a busy time for tow truck drivers, and the silver pickup was towed back to the lot at Pioneer Auto Sales. Osborn was booked into the Lincoln County detention center, and everybody went on with their week.
According to Lincoln county sheriff, Roby Bowe, “When Osborn was released from detention, he reported his silver Ram pickup as a stolen vehicle and reported his roommate, Ronald Peters as a missing person.”
Then, “On the 12th of July, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office received a call from Pioneer Auto that a body had been found in a car towed from the hospital,” Bowe told The Montanian.
“Nobody knew who it was at first, and then I found out that I actually knew who he was,” said Frank Thurow, the hapless Pioneer employee who found the body. “I was out there in the far lot, looking for a part for another vehicle, and I opened up the driver’s door and smelled an awful stench,” Thurow told The Montanian. “I couldn’t get in the rear driver door, so I went around to the rear passenger door, and I thought ‘that looks like a human hand, and that looks like a human foot,’ then, I called the Sherriff.”
“We don’t usually look in the vehicles we tow,” he said. Employees at Pioneer Auto routinely leave vehicle searches to law enforcement.
“It had been five days of over 90 degree heat, and there were maggots everywhere,” but it’s not really a person anymore, it’s just a vessel,” Thurow added.
“The autopsy of the deceased, Ronald Peters, is currently in progress and the Lincoln County Sherriff’s Office is currently investigating this incident but does not have a high expectation of foul play,” said Bowe.