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Skeletal remains found in Lower Windsor Twp. ID'd as missing man
Skeletal remains found in Lower Windsor Township late last month have been identified as a man who has been missing for more than three years.
The York County Coroner's Office said Friday, Jan. 5, that the skeletal remains found Dec. 27 were of Michael L. Berkheimer, 47, of Lower Windsor Township.
Berkheimer's remains were found by a hunter in a wooded area in the 400 block of Salem Church Road, the coroner's office said.
His cause of death was gunshot wound to the head, with the manner suicide.
Missing: Lower Windsor Township Police Chief Tim Caldwell said Berkheimer has been missing since June 2014. He had gone to Hershey Medical Center for some cancer-related treatment, the chief said, and he never returned.
“He just kind of disappeared, so to speak,” he said.
Berkheimer had been renting space at a home in the 1500 block of Snyder Corner Road, and he did not live with any family, Caldwell said.
The appointment at Hershey Medical Center would have been in April or May of 2014, which was the last time he had contact with his family, the chief said.
After police were notified, officials checked in with local hospitals to see if Berkheimer was a patient there, but he wasn't located.
Police weren't sure where he might have gone, Caldwell said.
Investigators received some information Berkheimer might have moved elsewhere, such as Florida, where some of his family lived.
“We’re talking about an adult man that has the ability to go where ever he wants whenever he wants," Caldwell said.
The chief said Berkheimer's remains were found not far from where he lived. The remains were found in a thicket of woods, Caldwell said.
No one saw Berkheimer go into the woods, according to the chief, who estimated Berkheimer died between April and June of 2014.
Identifying: Caldwell said police had suspected the remains might be Berkheimer's, but they waited to release that information until they had positive identification.
Since there was a missing-persons report for Berkheimer and some of the clothing near the remains had been recognized as his, the coroner's office had an idea with whom to compare dental records, according to Coroner Pam Gay.
Gay said a local forensic odontologist, a type of specialized dentist, helped to identify Berkheimer's remains. He was officially identified Wednesday, Jan. 3, she said, and his family was notified then.
Caldwell said Berkheimer's case is one of those issues where officials sometimes don't know what's going inside the mind of an individual.
"It's not anyone's fault; it's not because no one cared enough, it's just what he chose to do," Caldwell said. "It was his decision and his decision alone."
— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.