Autopsy: Meth Killed Man Before Bear Ate Him

Tennessee man was identified through tattoos
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2019 3:33 AM CST
Meth Overdose, Not Bear Killed Tennessee Man
In this Oct. 11, 2008 photo provided by the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a mother black bear and her cub are seen along Indian Grave Gap Trail near Townsend, Tenn.   (AP Photo/National Park Service)

A man found dead in Great Smoky Mountains National Park was killed by a methamphetamine overdose, not the bear that was found eating his body, authorities say. According to an autopsy released Monday, there were signs of "extensive postmortem animal predation" on the body of 30-year-old William Lee Hill, but no evidence that the black bear had attacked him, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports. The autopsy report states that syringes and other drug paraphernalia were found near the body of the Louisville resident, whose body was found on Sept. 11 last year. Hill, who had a history of drug use, had disappeared four days earlier while illegally gathering ginseng in the park with a friend.

The autopsy states that Hill's body had to be identified through tattoos, including a Confederate flag with the words "IT'S A REDNEK THING." The autopsy's finding came far too late to save the bear, which stayed in the area and behaved aggressively after Hill's body was found, WBIR reports. It was briefly captured and fitted with a GPS collar when the body was recovered. Authorities said at the time they made the "difficult decision" to euthanize it after reviewing the evidence, although they were unable to track it down until Sept. 16. Officials said there was no sign the 3-year-old bear, one of around 1,500 in the park, had rabies. (In 2016, rangers killed the wrong bear after a hiker was bitten.)

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