Autopsy results have yet to positively identify the person whose remains were discovered encased in concrete and buried in the yard of a Winder residence, but the Pensacola Police Department in Florida has identified the missing man as a former newspaper reporter for the Pensacola News Journal.
Sean Dugas, 30, of Pensacola has not been heard from since Aug. 27, when he talked with a female friend by phone. They planned to go to lunch, but when she arrived at his house to pick him up, Dugas wasn’t home, according to Pensacola police Capt. David Alexander.
Another man who lived at the house said Dugas was expected to return that afternoon, and the woman left a note for him, but he never contacted her. After trying unsuccessfully to contact him over the next several days, she returned to the house on Sept. 7. Neighbors told the woman a U-Haul truck had been there on Sept. 3 and they asked a man who was removing items from the house about Dugas. They said the man told them that he had been "beaten and was going to live with him.”
The woman contacted Pensacola police on Sept. 13, and Dugas’ name was entered into the National Crime Information Center’s computer database as a missing/endangered person, the press release states. When leads in the case led to Winder, local officers went to the home of the suspects’ father and on Monday discovered the remains of a man encased in concrete and buried in the yard.
“Police believe there is a connection between the body and Dugas’ disappearance and are awaiting positive identification,” the press release states.
The twin, 31-year-old brothers arrested Monday in the case recently moved to Winder and are being held in two area jails on pending charges of concealing a death. The body was unearthed from the side yard of a house their father is renting on Sixth Avenue just west of downtown.
Christopher Cormier is being held at the Barrow County Detention Center and William Cormier at the Jackson County Jail. Additional charges are pending the outcome of an autopsy that began after noon today, Oct. 9, at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.
Police were unable to immediately identify the body due to its solid encasement, but the victim was believed to be Dugas. Two investigators from the Pensacola Police Department traveled to Winder to "aggressively" assist with the identification of the body, according to Jesse Maddox, assistant agent in charge of the Athens office of the GBI.
The Cormier brothers reportedly told their Florida neighbors that they were moving to Georgia and Dugas was coming with them. But when they arrived here in a rented truck, they told their father that they had helped him move elsewhere. They said they did have his dead dog and asked if they could bury it in their father's yard.
“So under the pretense they were burying the dog, the father let them bury it on the side yard,” said Winder police chief Dennis Dorsey.
That is what the father told Pensacola investigators who had been searching for the missing man for nearly four weeks.
On Monday morning the Winder Police Department received a call for assistance in the investigation. When Winder officers went to the home, the father told them a different story, Dorsey said, declining to provide further details of how the stories differed.
So Winder investigators decided to obtain a search warrant, and a police car remained parked nearby to watch the house. The brothers then arrived at the scene but left quickly in a car after spotting the parked police unit.
“Lt. Frank Far pulled them over,” Dorsey said. “It was not a case where they were charged with fleeing. Those are short roads and there are a lot of turns, and as soon as he cut his blue lights on, they pulled over. They got into downtown Winder traffic, and there was not a lot of places they could go.”
Farr took the Cormiers to the police station, and while they were being questioned, officers conducted the search of the property.
“As they started walking the area they found an area that was fresh,” the chief said. “It looked as if someone had made a form out of boards and poured concrete into that area. It was larger than an area for a dog. So they got some equipment over there and they were able to lift it up.”
Officers turned over the freed concrete slab, which was about 5 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. They saw the bottom of a blue plastic storage container.
“They were able to cut the bottom off the container," Dorsey said. "At that point you could tell it was a human body, but you couldn’t tell much else.”
The body was in a fetal position inside the plastic container without a lid. The concrete had been poured over the open container, Dorsey said.
Winder police requested assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the concrete slab was transported to the GBI’s crime lab on the back of a skid truck.
Still to be determined is not only the cause of the victim's death but also in whose jurisdiction he died, Dorsey said.
“At this point we don’t know where the person died, if he was killed in Florida and transported here,” he said. “A lot of questions have to be answered.”
Dorsey said the brothers' rented truck has been located. The father also has been cooperative with police and does not appear to have been involved in the crime.
“We feel at this point he is telling us the truth,” Dorsey said.
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