Dental records and fingerprints enabled scientists at the Forensic Science Center in Tucson to identify the body found last week by hikers as that of James Munro, 42, of Payson.
The body was found April 9 by three teens hiking in the forest off Granite Dells Road. The boys were headed back to their vehicle when they spotted an arrow scratched into a rock and decided to follow it. They found a bike, gloves, knee pads and a sweater, and then boots and a jacket. Walking farther along, they saw a backpack, then one of them spotted a body. They ran to their vehicle and called 911.
"He was one of the smartest people I've ever met. He was very generous, very compassionate ... He had a very, very big heart," said a tearful Cherilynn Hughes, one of Munro's co-workers at Macky's Grill, where he had worked as the "bakerman" for five years.
"He had a big heart," agreed his cousin, Patricia Myers, her voice cracking, "It's still kind of hard."
Munro lived with the Myers family for five years, occupying a guest cabin on their property. He had helped care for Myers' mother, Emma Pryor, after she fell and broke her arm and leg.
"He had taken care of a paraplegic relative for years, so I knew he would be able to take care of my mom," Myers said.
Hughes said Munro loved children, and was very kind and very forgiving.
"He loved to mountain bike and hike. He went all over the place," she said. "We love him and we're all going to miss him very much."
Cari Day, owner of Macky's said they lost a part of their family when they lost Munro.
"He was a man of remarkable character. He was nice to our kids," Day said.
Myers said Munro loved the forest here and there is some talk among his family about scattering his ashes where he liked to bike and hike.
"He was very helpful. Just a sweet guy. He was very close to our son," Myers said. Her son, Steven, worked at Macky's, but is going to school in Colorado.
Day said Steven Myers was almost like a son to Munro. Myers' former co-workers are raising funds to help him come home for Munro's memorial service. Myers said final arrangements for Munro, who will be cremated, are still being planned.
Before the Forensic Science Center made its identification of Munro, the Gila County Sheriff's Office had an idea of who the hikers found April 9, according to Det. George Ratliff.
He said there was no identification at the scene, but the bike they found with the body had a serial number. Using the serial number in the computer records system, the sheriff's department had discovered the serial number had belonged to a bike that had been reported stolen.
Further investigation showed the bike had been retrieved by its owner --unro --n November from Tucumcari, N.M.
The sheriff's department connected the information on the man reporting the stolen bike to a report filed with the Payson Police Department.
Myers filed a missing persons report March 3. At that time, the last anyone had seen Munro was the morning of Feb. 26, when he left on a green mountain bike.
The cause of death, according to a report from the sheriff's department, was head trauma resulting from a fall off a large boulder.
Ratliff said they believe he was climbing rocks, slipped and fell. The detective explained the discarded clothes by saying Munro probably took them off to relax, then decided to climb on the boulders in the area.
Ratliff said it is very unusual to be able to use a serial number to identify someone in a situation like this.