MUNCIE, Ind. — A Muncie family is still looking for answers after three years of heartbreak and uncertainty following the death of 41-year-old Michael Coates.
Coates was last seen on May 19, 2019 at his home in Muncie. The next day, workers inside the Muncie wastewater treatment plant found his body on a conveyer used to filter out debris.
“It’s hard because you don’t really think that’s going to be the last time you see your loved one,” said Coate’s sister Teresa Dodd.
After three years following Coates’ death, investigators are still looking for answers to several key questions, including how he died. Although police cannot definitively say what happened before he was found, they said they do not believe his death was an accident and neither does his family.
“Even to this day, the death is undetermined,” Detective Dustin Lee with the Muncie Police Department said. “I don’t think this is an accident. Now, does that make it a homicide per se? No, but I don’t think he ended up where he was by accident.”
However, to get to the bottom of the case Lee said police need help. Trauma that Coates’ body endured from passing through the water system has complicated an already difficult case.
“Someone out there knows exactly what happened and was probably there when it happened,” Lee said. “Maybe more than one person.”
Dodd said she hopes whoever knows what happened will come forward.
“They just don’t realize how much it hurts the family not knowing, not having the answers that we need,” she said. “We suffer every day of our lives.”
If you have any information related to this case, contact the Muncie Police Department or Muncie Crime Stoppers at (765) 749-4933. Coates’ family is offering a $5,000 reward.