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On August 10, 2004, a white male’s badly decomposed body was discovered several hundred yards behind the Southbound Interstate 35 rest area north of Ames in a wooded location.
DNA tests later identified the body as that of Chad James Schwab, 30, of Snowmass, Colorado, although the state Medical Examiner’s Office and Capt. Gary Foster of the Story County Sheriff’s Office called the cause of death undetermined.
The Iowa State Patrol towed an abandoned vehicle from the rest area several weeks before the body’s discovery and tracked the vehicle’s registration to Schwab. DNA samples, compared with Schwab’s family members, helped investigators identify the body as that of Schwab.
Family members said Schwab had been traveling the country, not going any place in particular. He’d been traveling near Ames before he disappeared.
Officials confirmed Schwab was traveling alone and was not wanted by authorities for any criminal behavior.
Two men scouting for deer hunting sites found the skeletal remains halfway down a wooded ravine about a quarter mile behind the rest area and about 100 yards off the Skunk River Greenbelt Trail System. A polo shirt, pants and a black pair of men’s shoes were found near the body, though the victim had no identification in his pant pockets.
Because the remains were discovered on state property, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) was called in to assist in the investigation. The state crime lab processed the scene and vehicle while the sheriff’s office worked the case with DCI agents.
Though officials found no evidence of foul play and media initially reported the case as closed, Field Services Commander Lt. Jeff Dodds of the Story County Sheriff’s Office confirmed with Iowa Cold Cases on Feb. 19, 2009, that it is still considered an open case with the DCI as lead agency.
Anyone with information about Chad Schwab’s unsolved death is asked to contact the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation at (515) 725-6010, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact the Story County Sheriff’s Office at 515-382-6566.