Causes of death of man, 37, boy, 4, found along Valentine Ford Road not being released

BY ROXIE MURPHY, Republican Staff Writer and BY DAVE MARNER, Managing editor
Posted 9/18/19

Missouri State Highway Patrol investigators are calling the late-night Monday discovery of the bodies of a 37-year-old man and a 4-year-old boy from Belle along Valentine Ford Road a “death …

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Causes of death of man, 37, boy, 4, found along Valentine Ford Road not being released

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Missouri State Highway Patrol investigators are calling the late-night Monday discovery of the bodies of a 37-year-old man and a 4-year-old boy from Belle along Valentine Ford Road a “death investigation” and were not releasing additional information, including their identities, at this time.

While MSHP investigators were not releasing the cause of death for either the man or the boy, Sgt. Scott White, public information officer for the MSHP’s Troop F in Jefferson City, stressed “the public is not in danger.”

That was a message released in the initial announcement early Tuesday about the discovery at around 11:30 p.m. Monday of both bodies a short distance past a gravel “parking area” immediately off of Route A. The county road continues west before turning left to cross a low-water slab over Third Creek.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol’s Division of Drug and Crime Control is handling the investigation, according to Gasconade County Sheriff John Romanus. He said since the boy was initially reported “missing” from his home in Belle, and his body was found in Gasconade County, the MSHP would be handling the case.

“It’s a sad deal,” said Romanus on Tuesday morning.

Investigators were out “all night” until nearly dawn, he said. Volunteers from the Owensville Fire Department were called out to assist investigators by supplying flood lights to illuminate the scene.

Romanus said Gasconade County Coroner Benjamin Grosse was called out to transport the “two deceased individuals” to the Boone County Medical Examiner’s Office in Columbia. An employee at Grosse’s mortuary service in Hermann told The Republican he was “on the road”  Tuesday morning and relayed the message, saying, “He said he can not say a word other that what is out there” in the press release from the MSHP.

“Right now we are just calling it a death investigation,” said White. He said an autopsy on both bodies would likely be conducted sometime today (Wednesday).

“There’s lots of speculation but I just can’t confirm that right now,” said White when asked if a firearm was involved.

Gasconade County Sheriff’s deputies located the man’s vehicle and then the “male and child deceased nearby,” according to the MSHP release.

“We’re confident in the cause but we’re not going to speculate until after the autopsy.”

White said investigators learned from the boy’s parents their son had been with  their “family friend” since Sunday morning.

“This initial information was the child had been with him since the morning of Sept. 15,” said White. “We had information he had left with the child in previous instances and he always returned safely.”

White described the family’s relationship with the deceased man as someone who was “just considered a family friend.”

A woman who was fielding questions on Brenda Turner’s personal Facebook page on Tuesday replied to one person writing  that the deceased 37-year-old man, who Turner identified as Jason Barton, had lived with the family and cared for their children as needed (see related story below).

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