DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Autopsies are expected to be performed Saturday to confirm whether two decomposing bodies found in a vacant Detroit field are suburban teens reported missing after visiting a relative on the city’s east side, according to an official close to the investigation.
The bodies found Friday dressed only in undergarments appeared to have been shot and are believed to be the teens, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss details of the case.
Besides the autopsies, dental records are needed to positively identify the bodies, the official said.
The missing teens are 18-year-old Jacob Kudla and 17-year-old Jourdan Bobbish of Westland. Both were last seen Sunday. Their relatives said earlier Friday that they were awaiting word about the bodies’ identifications from the Wayne County medical examiner’s office.
Police declined comment on the official’s statements, but earlier said they found the bodies Friday morning in the mostly desolate neighborhood near City Airport, along Lyford Street at French Road, after receiving a 911 call.
“We’re hoping … maybe the bodies belong to somebody else,” said Reba Jacobs, Kudla’s cousin, who said police told the family that no positive identification had been made.
She said Kudla, a Schoolcraft College student known as “Jake,” and Bobbish, a high school senior, “are like brothers” and often go to Detroit.
“We have a grandma and uncles who live on Detroit’s east side, and it’s normal for them to visit,” said Jacobs.
Kudla and Bobbish were last seen Sunday night when they left the Detroit home of Kudla’s uncle. Kudla’s car, a 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier, was found the next day abandoned at a west side apartment with its sound system removed.
Relatives had searched vacant lots and around abandoned houses in that neighborhood, and made public pleas for help Thursday. Crime Stoppers of Michigan offered up a $25,000 reward for tips in the case.
Bobbish family friend Jeff Nicholoff of Brighton, who searched earlier in the week, called it a “tragic situation.”
“It’s a lesson to all of us that if you don’t belong down here you’ve got no business being down here or anywhere near this situation,” Nicholoff said Friday, about a block from where the bodies were found. “Especially those young guys. Those guys were about as sheltered as you can be.”
The area where the bodies were found is mostly obscured by 3- to 5-foot-high vegetation, littered with car tires, moldering furniture and other trash. The few remaining occupied homes are spaced out, while vacant structures teeter over crumbling concrete foundations.
The area is one to avoid, said 46-year-old Hazel Walker, one of the few people who live nearby.
“There is just too much going on and no one seems to care,” Walker said.
Walker, who was holding binoculars that she uses to survey the neighborhood, said crews had just been in the area Thursday to cut grass on vacant lots. They only trimmed grass within several feet of the street and stopped near where the bodies were found.
“There’s no street lights down there,” said Danyele Hardin, 36, who grew up on the street and whose father still lives there. “There’s no telling what you’d find down there.”
She said the neighborhood went into decline in the 1980s when drug activity increased and now there only are two other occupied homes on her father’s block.
“This block was so beautiful,” she said. “Just like a neighborhood you would want to live in and raise your children in.”
About 20 miles to the west at Kudla’s home, family and friends gathered Friday afternoon to console each other. Strangers dropped off pizza, sandwiches, hugs and well-wishes.
“There are good people out there with compassion,” said Rhonda Ruiz, one of Kudla’s relatives.
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