A North Carolina Groundskeeper Mowed Around A Dead Body Because He Thought It Was A Dummy

Published October 20, 2023
Updated October 23, 2023

Police do not suspect foul play in the death of Robert Owens — but his family members disagree.

Robert Owens

FacebookRobert Owens was living with his grandmother, whose home was not far from where his body was found.

On Oct. 10, 34-year-old Robert Owens’ nearly naked body was found lying face down on the lawn of a China Grove, North Carolina home. He had last been by family two days earlier, on Oct. 8, and in that time, seemingly no one noticed his body — including a groundskeeper who mowed around it, reportedly thinking it was a training dummy for police exercises.

Now, his family wants answers: How did he die? How did his body go unnoticed for so long? Why hadn’t his death been reported to the police sooner?

“Don’t know how you can do that,” Owens’ sister Haley Shue told local Queen City News. “Mow right beside someone and assume that they’re Halloween decorations at a house no one lives at.”

The mystery goes beyond this mix-up, though. Owens’ body was found wearing little clothing, and it appeared he had not been shot. In fact, police don’t suspect foul play at all, although the investigation is still ongoing.

Owen had, the family admitted, been known to do drugs. It’s unclear at the present moment if this had anything to do with his death. Still, in either case, Owens’ family is unsure of how he even ended up at the house.

“My grandmother has lived off of Shue Road for 40+ years,” Shue said, “and he’s never been to this house. He’s never known of this house this far off the road. He’s never been back here. He’s never been known to come here.”

It wasn’t until Oct. 10, the day after the groundskeeper mowed around Owens’ body, that a construction worker discovered the dead man.

As Shue told NBC News, the family said the construction worker said he found Owens “facedown in his underwear and socks with one arm under him, one arm out.” Owens also had “marks on his arms,” which the construction worker believed to be “defensive marks.”

Robert Paul Owens

FacebookOwens’ sister said that no member of the family has seen his body since it was discovered.

“You can only think what’s running through our mind. He doesn’t have any of his clothes — where’s his clothes? Where’s his belongings? Where’s his wallet, his cellphone, shoes and all that?” she said.

Despite police not suspecting foul play, Owens’ family hasn’t ruled the possibility out. On a GoFundMe page dedicated to Owens, Haley Reavis wrote, “We have evidence that has been handed over to the detective. If you’re reading this and you were involved just now [sic] you will get what you deserve very soon.”

An autopsy conducted on Owens’ body on Friday did not indicate that he had been assaulted or that his body had suffered any trauma. But his family was also frustrated that no crime scene tape had been set up, and they felt that police had not properly preserved the crime scene.

It didn’t help to set their minds at ease when police were allegedly unwilling to share information with the family initially. Shue said that police would not say where Owens’ body was found or what state he was in, just that he had not been shot. It wasn’t until the family found the construction worker who discovered Owens’ body that they gathered any information.

“There’s definitely some sort of foul play. We have been briefly told [by police] about some glass around his body. We don’t know if that glass is from a car or something else,” Shue said. “There’s no broken glass on the house.”

Police are still awaiting the results of a toxicology report to determine Owens’ actual cause of death. Meanwhile, his family is struggling to come to terms with the sudden loss.

“That’s something we have to live with, knowing no family ever identified him. No family got to say any final goodbyes to him. We just want to bring awareness to it,” Shue said. “We miss him dearly.”

For other strange stories from North Carolina, read about the North Carolina nursing home that ran a fight club with elderly dementia patients. Or, read about the North Carolina man who left Satanic messages in blood on a sorority house.

Austin Harvey
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Austin Harvey has also had work published with Discover Magazine, Giddy, and Lucid covering topics on mental health, sexual health, history, and sociology. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Point Park University.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Harvey, Austin. "A North Carolina Groundskeeper Mowed Around A Dead Body Because He Thought It Was A Dummy." AllThatsInteresting.com, October 20, 2023, https://allthatsinteresting.com/robert-paul-owens. Accessed April 18, 2024.