Man found dead in bus outside OKC church

Friday, October 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A broken down bus littered with cigarette butts and snack wrappers may have been shelter for a man whose decomposing remains were found inside, investigators say.

Police described the man as an American Indian, but haven't determined his identity, Sgt. Cris Cunningham, an Oklahoma City police spokeswoman, said Thursday. The cause of death was not released.

Members of a local Christian rock band who were scheduled to perform at Citychurch on Wednesday night found the man, said Roger Lance, executive pastor of the church.

The band members pulled into a parking lot near NW 10 and Robinson Avenue and parked behind a red church bus that had broken down about three weeks earlier, Lance said. Through the emergency back door of the bus they could see a figure lying on the floor.

``As other cars pulled in and the headlights flashed across the bus, it was obvious that someone was inside,'' Lance said. ``They went up to the front, where the door was unlocked, and they could smell it, so they called 911.''

The bus had been unattended for several weeks, Lance said. Cunningham said the body was in full rigor mortis but not in an advanced state of decay, suggesting that it was discovered within days of death.

It was apparent, however, that someone had been using the bus for shelter. Besides the cigarette butts and snack wrappers, police said seat cushions were piled in the aisle like a bed.

The body lay near the rear of the bus. Blood stained three of the rust-colored vinyl cushions and clumps of brown hair clung to one of the seats.

Homicide detectives planned to run the man's fingerprints through AFIS, a fingerprint identification database.

Citychurch officials were questioned about whether anyone was missing. The church feeds 100 to 200 impoverished people every morning.

Lance said he didn't know if anyone was missing. He said many American Indians attend the daily breakfasts.

The concert set for Wednesday night went on as planned.