Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling provides information during a press conference Monday morning about a transient man found dead in a Pine Street encampment on Saturday.
Updated 7:11 p.m. on 5/19/2014
Burlington police today identified the transient man found dead in a Pine Street encampment on Saturday, but said the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been unable to identify the cause of his death and will need at least three more weeks to conduct additional tests.
Forrest Bryant, 40, who had been in Burlington for three months, was found dead in a sleeping structure within the camp site on Saturday morning. The day before, authorities had notified the 10 or so people living in the encampment that they would have to leave in a few days, Police Chief Michael Schirling said during a morning press conference.
Further, police said a few hours after the news conference that they have a person of interest in the case in custody. Mark Delude, 52, of Burlington has been charged with obstruction of justice and trespass, authorities said, and was scheduled to appear Tuesday in Chittenden Superior Court. Police said that Delude was involved in an altercation with Bryant hours before Bryant's death, and tried to prevent police and rescue personnel from being called to the scene. Delude is a transient and has more than 70 prior arrests, police said.
Delude is being held in jail on $25,000 bail, police said.
Earlier today, Schirling said the decision to clear the encampment, made after workers in the Pine Street area discovered it, does not appear to have played a role in Bryant's death.
Bryant had no signs of external wounds, and police do not believe any weapons were involved. Moreover, while a toxicology report is still pending, that is not the source of the hold-up at the Medical Examiner's Office, Schirling said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner usually releases a cause and manner of death a day or two after a body is found, though sometimes toxicology reports can take up six to eight weeks to be completed.
"It's complicated, from a forensic perspective," Schirling said of the Bryant case.
Before coming to Burlington, Bryant had been in St. Albans, and he had also spent time in New York and southern Vermont. He apparently was not suffering from any significant mental illness, and had no record of causing trouble in Burlington, Schirling said.
The people who were in the encampment at the time of Bryant's death have been identified and are cooperating with investigators, Schirling said.
People displaced from the camp are receiving assistance from the city's Street Outreach team, health workers and others, Schirling said.
One of the people living at the encampment had a phone and called police to the scene on Saturday, Schirling said.
The encampment was located in the woods between 431 and 585 Pine Street, in an area controlled by a mix of government and private landowners.
Police are asking anyone who had seen Bryant recently to call Detective My Nguyen at (802) 540-2267.