The Highway Patrol was investigating the death of an unidentified man whose body was found early Thursday near an alley less than three blocks from the downtown square.
Contractors who were going to work on a nearby house found the body about 7 a.m. at the edge of a gravel alley off Stella Street between East and Taylor streets. The man, who appeared to be in his mid-20s to mid-30s, was wearing soiled, torn sweat pants, a T-shirt and jacket. The badly beaten face of the man showed cuts, bruises and abrasions.
The victim, who was not immediately visible to those arriving on the scene, was believed to have died not long before the body was found.
A California police officer dispatched to the scene was joined by a deputy sheriff before the patrol investigators arrived.
With shoe covers and gloves, the patrol investigators searched a large area marked off with crime scene tape, placing numbered yellow cards and photographing pieces of possible evidence. The search area included an old garage foundation on the lot, a large grassy area, the alleyway and about 75 feet of Stella Street.
The patrol investigators, in the presence of County Coroner Loyd Fulks, examined the body. One patrolman commented that the deceased had taken a beating and it looked as if his jaw was broken.
An autopsy will be performed at Columbia.
Witnesses said authorities expanded the area of investigation later Thursday to include an area of an apartment complex on Oak Street and the parking lot where some evidence was collected. After transporting at least one person away from the premises in a police car, the police and patrolmen remained at the apartment complex for about two hours.
Other patrol officers returned to a different part of the apartment complex several hours later.
The patrol is assisting the California Police Department and the Moniteau County Sheriff's Department in the investigation.