Update: The man found on the beach Tuesday evening north of Ludington State Park has been identified as Allen Townsend, 48, of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.
“We were working with another police department in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and he has been identified as a Sheboygan man who was reported missing,” Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole told the Ludington Daily News about how the man was identified.
Sheboygan police received a report in late December that Townsend was missing and had last been seen by friends leaving a house on Nov. 20, 2013.
Cole released Townsend’s name Wednesday after the family members had been notified that he had been recovered in Mason County.
Sheboygan Police Captain Jim Veeser reported to Wisconsin media that identifying marks on the body matched those that were on Townsend. Veeser said no foul play is suspected regarding Townsend’s death.
An autopsy Wednesday morning at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital determined details that were helpful. The man was a 180-pound black man, 5' 11".
The man had two tattoos, a half-moon/star above a pyramid on his upper left chest/left nipple.
GRANT TOWNSHIP — Who is this man? What happened to him?
Those are the questions detectives are seeking answers for after firefighters and police retrieved a man’s body from the beach along Lake Michigan Tuesday evening.
Three local bicyclists were riding the beach on their fat-tire bikes when they found the body 2.9 miles north of the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, south of Nurnberg Road in Mason County’s Grant Township.
Andy Klevorn and Dave Maclean of Ludington and Brian Monton of Pentwater were riding along the Lake Michigan shoreline Tuesday about 7 p.m. when they noticed something unusual.
They had been heading north and had just turned around to return home.
“We were just biking along and the first thing I saw was the shoes,” Monton told the Ludington Daily News.
The body didn’t look real, he said, and the three friends wondered whether they were looking at a mannequin.
“It was so weathered we thought and debated whether it was real,” he said.
They wondered how the shoes stayed on over time.
“It didn’t really make sense to us,” he said.
Thinking back on it now he wonders if the man wandered out on the beach from the woods.
The body was still intact and he said he was glad it was found before the weather turned too warm.
“It looked like it had been encased in ice,” Monton said.
“I looked over and saw a hand,” Klevorn told the Ludington Daily News.
Klevorn then noticed more of the body, the man’s head, noticing he appeared bald, but not believing what he was seeing, thinking it must be a mannequin or something, not a body.
“It didn’t look real,” he said.
The man had his shoes on and socks but no other clothing was visible.
He called the Mason County Sheriff’s Office, and emergency responders began their trek to the area, accessing the remote location by all-terrain vehicle.
The cyclists rode to the Ludington State Park warming shelter to wait.
“I hope there was no foul play and this can bring some closure to a family,” Klevorn said.
He said he was glad it was the three friends who found the body rather than a family or children walking the beach this summer.
Maclean said he first thought he was seeing a deer.
“We were just in the process of turning around, making a big circle,” he told the Ludington Daily News.
“We all rode over toward it and I think everybody realized what it was about the same time.”
That the man still had his shoes on, and that they looked like they were brand new, maybe cleaned by blowing sand, “that was pretty strange,” Maclean said.
The shoes, rather than boots, seem to indicate the man had been there a while, Maclean said. The weather hasn’t allowed for sneakers much this winter.
“If it was a winter camper, he would have had clothes on and wouldn’t have been wearing sneakers,” he said.
The cyclists were at the south end of the Nordhouse Dunes area.
The beach at that spot is expansive and the body was found about 65 feet from the water, still in beach sand but nearing the edge of the flat area, Maclean said.
All three, along with the rest of the community, will be interested to find out who the man is and what happened to him.
An autopsy is scheduled for today to try to determine cause of death and possibly identify the man.
The man’s body, about 6 feet tall, was found about 3 miles north of the lighthouse. He was wearing socks and shoes. He was 65 feet from the water’s edge, according to Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole. Cole said he had no reports of missing persons fitting the man’s description, although he noted that the man’s race couldn’t be determined.
“He was pretty weathered,” Cole said. “He had been out there months if not the entire winter.”
Hamlin firefighters went in from the Ludington State Park. Grant firefighters approached from north of the site in the Manistee National Forest.
Mason County sheriff’s deputies were at both the north and south ends.
Ludington State Park Manager Jim Gallie and Dan Young responded to help emergency crews access the area.
Detectives were at the scene and collected information, then the body was transported off the beach and to Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital. The Mason County Medical Examiner’s Office also responded to the scene.
Free Soil firefighters responded as well, as did Life EMS.
Responders used side-by-side all-terrain vehicles, often called UTVs, to access the area.
Authorities in Wisconsin and bordering counties are being asked if they have anyone missing that could possibly fit this person’s description.