A skeleton wrapped in tattered clothing was on Thursday found in a drainpipe on the roof of a school in Chiayi County’s Budai Township (布袋).
Local police have sent the remains for laboratory testing to identify the person and ascertain the cause of death.
Yongan Elementary School said it hired workers to clean out the drainpipe due to severe flooding on the roof of the school’s four-story administrative building, where workers found the remains wrapped in tattered clothing and blankets.
The remains showed signs of severe weather damage and the skull seemed to be fractured, the school said, adding that while there were no documents to identify the body, a cellphone several generations old was found with it.
After police arrived on site, they found that the remains were stuffed into a 40cm drainage pipe, which was accessible only through a small access hole.
Authorities said the body is believed to be that of Hou Jung-hung (侯榮宏), who was the school’s janitor until he went missing on April 4, 2007, at age 45.
The police asked Hou’s elder brother to identify the remains, but aside from saying that the clothes were what he thought Hou was wearing when he went missing, he was unable to provide definitive identification.
Hou worked at the school as a custodian after retiring from the army, where he was once a company commander, his brother said.
He added that he had long suspected that Hou’s disappearance might have been related to a construction scandal Hou had accused the school of being involved in, as the documents Hou kept regarding the issue had also disappeared.
If the death is ruled to have been a homicide, the killer must have been on the rooftop with Hou, police said, but added that at this point, it is conjecture and there is no evidence to back up such a claim.
Lin Chin-chin (林金進), the principal of the school when Hou went missing, who is now principal of Puzih Elementary School, said that he had been accused of using old instead of new facilities after a renovation project.
Hou has not been seen since the 2007 spring vacation, Lin said, adding that he reported Hou as missing after unsuccessfully attempting to find him by contacting family members.
Yongan Elementary School principal Tsai Chih-cheng (蔡志成) said that he was unaware of the case when he took the position in August last year.
Chiayi County Department of Education Deputy Director Li Mei-hua (李美華) said that the remains were not discovered when the school installed solar panels on the building’s roof, adding that the department would look into Hou’s accusations.
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