It began when Bryce and Rebecca Baker said they noticed a bad smell in their apartment complex parking lot in Maize.
Rebecca Baker said she detected the odor a couple of weeks ago but thought it must be a dead animal, possibly in a sewer drain, at the Fieldstone Apartments, 5050 N. Maize Road. Bryce Baker said he mentioned the smell to property management staff and they said they would check into it.
In the same parking lot, Bryce Baker, 19, also noticed a white car, parked in the same spot for about a month. Thinking back Monday, he remembered seeing – through the car’s tinted windows – a long-handle shovel leaning against the front passenger seat.
He didn’t peer into the back seat. If he had, he might have a seen a body.
That’s what Maize police found after Bryce Baker called 911 on Monday morning after noticing a really bad odor and flies swarming around the white car. The car belongs to a man missing since February, according to the McPherson Police Department.
“You just don’t think this would happen,” Bryce Baker said.
Now, authorities are trying to determine the cause of death for the person whose decomposing body was found lying in the back seat.
The body is that of an adult, but because of advanced decomposition, authorities aren’t sure whether it is a man or woman, Maize Police Chief Matt Jensby said Monday afternoon as investigators wearing masks worked around the car. The body, which was clothed, could have been decomposing for weeks or months, Jensby said.
On its Facebook page, the McPherson Police Department said Monday afternoon that it had received information from the Wichita Police Department about a missing person named Adam Sabri, 54. McPherson police said Sabri’s vehicle was found at about 10 a.m. Monday in Maize, with a body inside. McPherson police said officials are waiting on autopsy results to determine the identity.
Sabri’s family couldn’t be reached for comment Monday night.
A copy of a missing-person flier posted on the McPherson Police Facebook page said Sabri had been missing from Wichita and was last seen about 10 a.m. Feb. 9. The flier said he owns Timeout Sports Bar and Grill in McPherson and that use of his ATM card placed him in Wichita, although he had told someone he was going to Hutchinson.
He was last known to be driving a white 2008 Saturn Aura. The flier asked people to contact Wichita or McPherson police about his disappearance.
According to Jensby, a resident at the apartment complex called 911 about 10:30 a.m. after noticing a strong odor. Officers found the car locked but could see a body lying in the back seat.
Investigators are still trying to positively identify the body, Jensby said. Detectives have been checking missing-person reports, he said.
Jensby said the car is a white, four-door Saturn with a Sedgwick County license tag. Authorities don’t know how long it has been parked there, in the central-west part of the complex.
Monday afternoon, police had the parking lot encircled with yellow tape, and residents watched from a distance as investigators, including coroner’s staff, worked in the burning sun around the car.
The hot wind carried the foul odor across the parking lot.
Later Monday afternoon, authorities had the car removed.
Contributing: Stan Finger and Rick Plumlee of The Eagle