The Billings Police Department has launched a homicide investigation after a body was discovered by two people walking early Wednesday evening on the West End.
Two people walking on a dirt road along the irrigation canal west of Billings Collision Repair on South 32nd Street West discovered the body, according to BPD Capt. Jeremy House.
It appeared to be the body of an adult, but House said they had not determined if it was a man or woman. Officers had difficulty reaching the body, which was found in an area heavy with downed trees and debris near what appeared to be an abandoned transient camp between the road and the canal.
The body looked to be partially covered in debris, leaves and possibly a blanket, according to House. The people who found the body were cooperating with police.
House said officers would be watching the scene overnight and detectives would begin processing it in the morning with 3-D scanning, photography and a canvass of the area for evidence. After that work had concluded, the body will be recovered and an autopsy performed.
Limited visibility and officer safety were both factors in the decision to process the crime scene Thursday morning, House said. "In daylight we'll be able to take our time, go in there and look in a large area," he said, adding that police currently had "minimal lights set up covering a small space and we don't want to miss anything."
BPD Lt. Brian Korell initially described the body as headless and wrapped in carpet. House, who was at the scene, said he had not gotten close enough to the body to confirm those details, but that it was possible that description came from an initial report on police radio channels.
He also declined to comment on the condition of the body, citing policy that recommends generally not sharing that sort of information with the public while the investigation is ongoing.
"Our official statement is we can't confirm because we haven't moved the body. We haven't processed the body," House said.