COLUMBIA, Md. - On Friday, Robert Botkin was walking his dog "Bruno" behind the Club Merion Apartment Homes in Columbia, when he realized police had roped off the woods behind the complex, and there was more.
"When you see a stretcher like that at the entrance to some woods, it immediately sends up red flags that something bad has happened," recalled Botkin.
Sherry Llewellyn of the Howard County Police Department says a landscaper had come across what he thought was discarded clothing when he made a gruesome discovery.
"When he moved an article of clothing, he saw the bones right underneath and immediately called police," said Llewellyn.
For now, police suspect the victim is a male, but until they determine the cause of death, they have no idea if foul play is involved or the identity of the person for that matter.
"We didn't have a missing person’s report that matches up with these remains so right now we are waiting on the Medical Examiner's Office to try to figure out more information that can lead us in the right direction to identify this person," added Llewellyn.
For his part, Robert Botkin hopes investigators can quickly unravel the mystery.
"If it was something that happened and they determine it was 20, 30, 40 years ago, it will make me feel a little bit better," said Botkin.
Better than the alternative---that someone died or was killed within earshot of his home, a short distance from where he and others walk their dogs every day.
"I was telling my wife the other day,” said Botkin, ”'I haven't seen so-and-so out there walking their dog lately. I'm just hoping everybody's okay and it isn't something that happened recently.'"