The remains of Joshua Vernon Maddux, who was reported missing in 2008, were found lodged inside a chimney in Woodland Park, Colorado. Although the discovery was terribly disturbing, authorities said they do not have any reason to suspect foul play.
As reported by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the teen was last seen on May 8 at the home he shared with his mother. As he seemingly vanished without a trace, he was reported missing three days later.
— CBSDenver (@CBSDenver) October 1, 2015
Joshua’s family was specifically concerned, as he was mourning the loss of his brother who died the previous year. According to reports, the teen and his brother “were very close,” and Joshua was devastated by his brother’s death.
Although authorities and his family conducted a thorough search, Joshua Vernon Maddux’s disappearance remained a mystery, and the case went cold.
Last month, crews were clearing land for the Murphy’s Wildernest development. While dismantling an abandoned cabin, crews discovered a decomposed body inside the chimney.
Teller County Coroner Al Born later confirmed the remains belong to Joshua Vernon Maddux. The cabin, which was purchased by the developer’s family in the 1950s, sat empty for nearly a decade.
As reported by Fox 21 News, the family periodically entered the cabin to “scare away animals and try to find the source of the rancid smell.” However, they had no idea the missing teen was lodged inside the chimney.
Unbelievable! Body of 18-year-old missing for 7 years found in chimney. DETAILS: http://t.co/mqvq05BGg0 pic.twitter.com/hH4ABA25JF
— 13News Now (@13NewsNow) October 1, 2015
It is unclear why Joshua was inside the cabin, or what prompted him to climb into the chimney, but the coroner confirmed there were no signs of trauma on the teen’s remains.
Born believes Joshua simply “entered the chimney feet first and got stuck.” The death was officially ruled accidental, as the coroner did not find any indication that the teen intended to end his life.
Although they were devastated by the news, Joshua’s family said they are relieved to have closure.
Unfortunately, Joshua Vernon Maddux’s story is not unique. In September 1987, human remains were found lodged inside a chimney at the Bellingham Georgia Pacific West Inc. paper mill in Oklahoma.
A medical examiner later determined the victim was a male between the ages of 20 and 40. It is estimated that the man was approximately five feet nine inches tall and likely weighed around 140 pounds.
As reported by Klipsun, the victim was only inside the chimney for a few days. Unfortunately, as the temperature inside the chimney often exceeded 300 degrees, the remains were terribly burned.
Despite an extensive investigation, the man’s identity remains a mystery. Although the paper mill was active when the incident occurred, there were no witnesses, and the victim did not have any personal belongings in his possession at the time of his death.
In April 2010, the remains of a Bakersfield, California, woman were found inside a chimney at a residential home. As reported by KVAL, the unidentified woman’s body was discovered by a family friend who went inside the house “to care for the homeowner’s fish.”
According to reports, the unidentified person noticed an unusual odor when entering the home. The person eventually traced the odor to the chimney, which contained the body of the homeowner’s girlfriend.
Although the circumstances were unusual, authorities said they do not suspect foul play. It was determined that the woman likely climbed onto the roof, “removed the chimney cap, and slid down the flue feet first.”
It is unclear what prompts people to climb into chimneys. However, it is a dangerous practice that often leads to serious injury or death. In many cases, the accidents go undetected as the victims have no means of escape and they are not readily seen or heard.
— CBSDenver (@CBSDenver) August 14, 2015
Joshua Vernon Maddux’s death was a horrible tragedy, but the discovery of his remains will help his family find closure. His sister, Ruth, said they are currently making arrangements to give the teen a proper burial.
[Image via Westword]