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Body ID'd: Death apparent accident

April 30, 2013

Human remains discovered Sunday in a ravine east of the Walmart SuperCenter have been identified as a Big Spring man who was reported missing by family members early this month, according to law enforcement officials.

The remains were identified as 32-year-old Michael Birmelin of Big Spring, according to Sgt. Tony Everett, public information officer with the Big Spring Police Department. The announcement was made Monday during a press conference at the Troy M. Hogue Joint Law Enforcement Center.

“An autopsy was performed this morning on the remains discovered Sunday,” Everett said. “On April 3, Birmelin was reported as missing by a family member. The autopsy revealed that he had suffered a broken back and broken ribs believed to be from a fall from a 50-foot ledge above the ravine, landing on large rocks.”

Everett said the autopsy showed no other injuries to the victim and there were no signs of another party being present at the time of the fall.

“Although the investigation continues, at this point there are no signs of foul play,” Everett said. “It remains unknown why the victim was in that location.”

Birmelin's body was discovered Sunday when law enforcement officers attempted to arrest a local woman — 32-year-old Misty Dawn Clayton — near Walmart on a theft charge. According to Everett, officers chased Clayton into the ravine, located south of the SuperCenter, apprehending her approximately 300 yards southeast of the department store.

“Upon searching the area where the arrest was conducted, officers also located the decomposing remains of a male subject,” Everett said. “Investigators were notified and responded (but) due to the state of the remains, officers were unable to positively identify the victim.

“During the investigation into the unattended death, it was found that the female suspect (Clayton) had also stolen property from the pocket of the victim (as officers approached). She has been charged with theft from a corpse; however, there is nothing to indicate she had any knowledge or was involved in Birmelin's death.”

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