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LEAVENWORTH, Wash. — Human remains found near a forest service road in Washington were identified as a 26-year-old man from St. George, police said Tuesday.
The body of Yannick Chauncey Periou was found by two people driving on the road in the Beaver Creek area, which is 15 miles north of Leavenworth, Washington, according to the Chelan County Sheriff's Office. The incident occurred Aug. 31 on U.S. Forest Service land.
"The subjects observed what they believed to be a dead animal just off of a roadway," a statement from the sheriff's office reads. "When they walked up to the object, it was discovered to be human remains."
The body was "badly decomposed," according to investigators. Wayne Harris, the Chelan County Coroner, said he took the remains to a forensic anthropologist in Seattle for examination.
He said the forensic anthropologist looked for unusual marks on the bones to determine if there had been any sharp or blunt force injuries or other trauma prior to death.
His mom and sister came up to our area before they knew for sure it was him because they had a strong feeling it was because we found his car.
"She examined the skeletal remains and concluded no unusual marks on the bones that shouldn't have been there," he said. "Since there wasn't any biological tissue to test, the cause and manner of death will be documented on the death certificate as undetermined."
Investigators were able to positively identify Periou by comparing post-mortem dental X-rays to military dental X-rays. Periou's last point of service in the Army was in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in October 2012, according to Harris.
It is unclear why Periou was in the area, Harris said. Periou told his sister he was in Canada during one of their last phone calls, but she did not know why he was there. His car was found abandoned in the woods by deputies from the Chelan County sheriff's office July 11, according to Harris. They ran the VIN when it hadn't moved by July 25, but the body was located until Aug. 31.
"His mom and sister came up to our area before they knew for sure it was him because they had a strong feeling it was because we found his car," he said. "The VIN registered to him, but in the business of forensics we can't go by that. We have to have a positive identification, whether it is fingerprints, dental X-rays or skeletal X-rays to confirm."
"Since he had been there for probably six weeks in the sun there wasn't any way to do a facial recognition — we couldn't just look at a picture and say that was him."
While the body was positively identified, Harris said there probably won't be a cause of death.
"Usually when a body is found or a person dies, we're able to do an autopsy and examine their organs and tissue and blood samples, but we're not going to be able to in this case," he said.
Periou's remains will be released to a local funeral home before being sent to Utah at the family's request.