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Body in Pr. William recycling plant came from Newport News

Josh White

Police detectives are working to identify the body found in a Manassas-area recycling center Wednesday night and believe that the victim was inadvertently picked up in a recycle container in Newport News and transported to Prince William County.

The body was found among the contents of a recycle container that was picked up in Newport News, in the area of Municipal Lane, and later transported to a Canusa Hershman Recycling Company processing plant on Notes Drive, near Interstate 66, Newport News police said. Detectives are working to determine the identity of the body and medical examiners have not yet found a cause of death.

Jonathan Sloan, president of Canusa Hershman, said Thursday that company personnel in Manassas discovered the body during second shift late Wednesday evening inside the facility. Sloan said one of the company’s customers delivers recyclables from the Newport News area, and police said the container that held the body appears to have ties to that area.

Officials said it is possible that the victim was a homeless person who might have been sleeping in the container, but they are still working to determine what happened and if the body was perhaps dumped into the container. The case is being investigated as an undetermined death.

Sloan said his company has never had something like this occur but said it would be difficult to guard against.

“There are a significant number of collection points when you take into account the total number of containers,” Sloan said. “There’s no control over something like this. It’s very unfortunate and it’s a sad circumstance. We take the situation very seriously.”

The Washington Post Company and Canusa Corporation -- Canusa Hershman’s parent company -- have a joint venture called Capitol Fiber. Capitol Fiber recycles materials in its Springfield facility and is not connected to the Manassas facility or its operations.

The Manassas facility recycles commercial and residential source segregated material from the Washington region and sells its recycled material on the commercial market.

Though rare, such grisly discoveries have been made before. An Upper Marlboro man’s body was found at a Laurel recycling facility in November after the dumpster in which he was sleeping was picked up and compacted by a cardboard recycling truck.

The man was homeless and his death ruled an accident. His body was found by employees at the Laurel recycling facility after a compacted load was delivered. Prince George’s County police said at the time that they often find homeless people sleeping in dumpsters but that they had never heard of someone dying in such a manner. Police warn that dumpsters are not safe places to sleep or play.

-- Josh White

By Josh White  |  May 20, 2010; 3:25 PM ET
Categories:  Josh White , Pr. William , Updates , Virginia  
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