INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- Joseph Capps worked at a south side Walmart on U.S. 31 when he walked out of the store on his lunch break one night last February and was never seen again.
It was two months before his family reported him missing.
In October, a tipster called Crime Stoppers to report skeletal remains in a wooded area at the interchange of I-465 and South East Street, two-and-a-half miles from the Walmart.
“Whoever called in the tip obviously saw the remains,” said IMPD Detective Bob Flack, who climbed sixty feet into the woods from the off ramp to look at the body. “It was pretty much a full skeleton, there were a couple of bones missing.
“There was clothing left with the remains and we found the wallet and the work ID of the individual that was later identified.”
Flack told IMPD Missing Persons detectives he had the ID card of a man they were looking for, but without a coroner’s ruling on the identity and cause of death, there was no proof that Capps’ death was a murder.
“Two days ago I was notified by the coroner’s office,” said Flack. “We checked the name on the work ID and determined that individual’s dentist and found that person had seen a dentist and that’s how we made the identification of that individual.”
Even though it took more than two months to attach a name to the body in the woods, Flack said investigators knew from the start they likely had a murder to solve.
“They did an autopsy the next day and that’s when a defect was found on the skull of the individual,” said the detective. “There was blunt force trauma to the skull on the right side of the head.”
There was no activity on Capps’ bank card or cell phone following his disappearance. Capps didn’t have a criminal record or evidence of drug use or a dispute with anyone.
The location where the body was found is so inaccessible that Flack wonders if his original Crimestoppers tipster literally stumbled on the remains while hiking through the woods or knows why Capps was killed and dumped there.
That informant has called Crimestoppers once before. Investigators hope the tipster will again at 317-262-TIPS.
While Capps was murdered in 2016, his identification and cause of death were not determined until days ago and the homicide will be listed against 2017 statistics.