The discovery of a decaying body inside a college ventilation system marked the tragic and unexplained end to a missing person case.
Jason Anthony Thompson, who was 36, was discovered inside a vent at Macomb Community College by authorities who were searching for the source of a foul odor at the school in Macomb County, Michigan, on Sunday night. It is unclear how Thompson—who was not affiliated with the college according to the Mirror U.S.—ended up inside the air vent, but Macomb College Police Chief William Leavens told local news channel Fox 2 that there was “no reason to suspect foul play.”
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), some 600,000 people go missing in the U.S. every year. Many of the cases involve children, but an analysis of missing adults over the age of 21 by number-crunching website Statista revealed that 100,492 men and 62,552 women went missing in 2021.
Thompson, from Clinton Township, was last seen leaving a relative’s apartment in Sterling Heights on October 25 and he was reported missing on November 1.
Police said they found a body inside the ventilation system at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday. Macomb College Police Chief William Leavens stressed that foul play was not suspected, but added: “At this point, it is important to remember that this an ongoing investigation, with the goal to understand the circumstances.”
The building has now been closed to students while the investigation continues, and Thompson was officially identified on Monday. The Macomb County medical examiner’s office is working to determine the cause of death.
Newsweek has reached out by email to Macomb College Police requesting further information and comment.
A fundraiser was launched on the GoFundMe website on Monday by Clarissa Longo, who said she was Thompson’s cousin. She is seeking to help his family pay for his memorial service, she said, with any leftover money to be put into a trust fund for Thompson’s two children.
“Jason was loved by many people and his family has been through a lot over the past month while he has been missing,” Longo added. “Jason was a Father to two beautiful children, Killian and Kiara. He was a son, brother, uncle, cousin, but most important he was loved by his family and friends and will be missed.”
The fundraising page has a $15,000 goal, and by the early hours of Tuesday had raised $1,275.
The college’s students have been left shaken by the discovery of the body, with some complaining to the Mirror U.S. that they have had no communication from the school about the incident.
Student Anna Venhuizen told local news channel ABC 7 that her class in the building has been canceled for the rest of this week. The discovery of human remains has left her rattled, she said, adding: “I could’ve walked right by a dead body in the building and never have known it. It’s going to be really weird going back.”
Macomb County College officials released a short statement to the Macomb Daily newspaper, saying: “The college community extends heartfelt condolences during this difficult time to Mr. Thompson’s family and friends.”