Mummified body found under bushes along freeway frontage road

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PHOENIX – Phoenix police are investigating a grisly discovery by some workers in South Phoenix Thursday morning.

A contracted landscaper was working on the north side of Interstate 17 near 19th Avenue shortly before 6:30 a.m. when he found a body under some bushes along the frontage road. The landscaper immediately called the police.

Investigators have not identified the dead man, but they believe he likely died of natural causes.

Describing the body as “mummified” and "covered in dirt," a sergeant told 3TV that police believe the man might have been under those bushes for several days or even weeks. Investigators said based on the appearance of the body, it’s possible that the man died before the monsoon, which began on June 15.

Police said there were no obvious signs of trauma.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office will determine the time and cause of death.

The area reportedly is frequented by homeless people who often sleep under bushes that offer a bit of shade and some small amount of protection from the summer sun. It’s not known for sure if the man found Thursday morning was homeless, but investigators said it does look that way.

The last time the contracted landscaper was working in that area was several weeks ago.

No other details were immediately available.