BELTON — A body was found in Stillhouse Hollow Lake by two local fishermen Thursday afternoon.
No manner of death, nor identification has been determined, said Bell County Sheriff Eddy Lange.
As two recovery boats departed Cedar Gap Park near Farm-to-Market Road 3481, just south of Harker Heights about 4 p.m., Lange spoke to reporters on the scene.
“About 2:30 this afternoon, a pair of fishermen on the upper reaches of Lake Stillhouse notified authorities that they found a body while they were out fishing,” Lange said.
Although police didn’t know how the individual — gender unknown — died, Lange said, the departing boats would be bringing the body back to shore for closer scrutiny.
“At this time, we’re in the early stages of our investigation,” Lange said. “We don’t know if this is going to be an accidental drowning, a possible homicide, suicide — we don’t know. The boats have gone back out to retrieve the body. It’s in such a condition, that with preliminary reports, we can’t even determine its race.”
In April, Lange investigated the death of Sgt. 1st Class Robert Jones Jr., of Fort Hood, who drowned after his boat drifted away and he jumped into the lake to retrieve it. He never surfaced and was identified soon after by Army officials as having drowned accidentally.
Lange said yet another man, Melvin Kennon, 62, of Killeen, drowned late in 2015.
“He dropped his cellphone over the side of the boat and attempted to retrieve it,” Lange said Thursday of Kennon, who drowned Oct. 1. “When he did, he fell out and was unable to get back in the boat, so that was a very tragic situation. His own mother had to witness it.”
Kennon's body was recovered shortly after.
In a case where the length of time after the unknown person’s death may be crucial to finding the manner of death, Lange said, his investigators will be especially mindful of the need to preserve evidence.
“We always try and preserve all the evidence,” Lange said. “You never know when police will find one little piece of evidence that can change the case. It could mean the difference in solving the case and not solving the case.”
Lange said his investigators simply won’t know how the unknown person died, but cautioned those who frequent the lakes in Bell County.
“Accidents can happen in the blink of an eye, and sometimes it’s just too late,” Lange said.