Broadwater County authorities have identified a body found south of Townsend as that of Philip Pietz, who was reported missing from Helena several months ago.
Broadwater County Sheriff Wynn Meehan said Thursday that the state crime lab determined the man was 48-year-old Pietz.
Pietz was listed as a missing/endangered person in an alert from the Montana Department of Justice who was last seen December 2 in the Walmart parking lot in Helena. The December alert said that Pietz was a transient and resided in his truck, which was found crashed near a ranch north of Helena, and where another vehicle on the same ranch was stolen.
Meehan said a rancher discovered the body the morning of Friday, April 17, in a field just off U.S. Highway 287, about four miles south of Townsend. He said the body had been there for a long time, so it was difficult to identify a manner of death – but he believes it was not a “natural death.”
“This is going to be a complex investigation,” he said.
Meehan said the Lewis & Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Montana Division of Criminal Investigation will also be involved in the case, and that other agencies may be brought in.
“This all started as a missing person for Lewis and Clark County, so there’s a lot of that groundwork that’s already been done,” he said. “They’ve shared that information with us; now it’s time for us to go through and start digesting all that and trying to figure out what’s been done and where we need to go from there.”
“I’m hoping that people will see this and say, ‘I remember,’ or ‘I saw,’ or something, and they will share it with us and we can move forward to try to find the family some answers on what happened to their loved one,” Meehan said.