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November 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Remains found in Lewis County were those of missing Tacoma man

The (Centralia) Chronicle

The Lewis County Coroner’s Office has identified the skeletal remains found near a wrecked vehicle over a cliff off of U.S. Highway 12 near Packwood on Nov. 6. The remains are of Jerry L. Heilman, 50, Tacoma, who who was reported missing last year to the Tacoma Police Department.

The cause of death is blunt force trauma and the manner of death is undetermined, according to the coroner’s office.

Two hikers found the skeletal remains of Heilman by the crashed vehicle on Nov. 6 and immediately notified the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office.

Detectives and Packwood Search and Rescue members responded early on the morning of Nov. 7 to the site on U.S. Highway 12 near milepost 143, about 275 feet over an embankment.

The terrain in the area made it dangerous to traverse during the dark, the sheriff’s office said, therefore the investigation and recovery began the next day in daylight.

Responders rappelled 275 feet down the embankment to the vehicle and found nothing that indicated a crime had occurred, according to the sheriff’s office.

The vehicle sustained major damage. The sheriff’s office said it appeared the vehicle had been traveling at highway speed when it left the roadway.

The highway in that area does not have a guard rail.

The car with the skeleton was not the only vehicle found in the White Pass area between Palisades and Rimrock Lake.

Approximately 25 more vehicles, including stolen vehicles, were found, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: death investigation, Lewis County, missing person

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