COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A man’s body was found at a South Columbus park on Wednesday night. He was believed to be shot in broad daylight and his body was not discovered for hours.

A 21-year-old Columbus man, Joshua Sanford, was found dead in Benning Hills Park just before 7 p.m. on July 6. According to the Coroner’s Office, Sanford was there well before his body was found.

The Columbus Police Department says Sanford was found by someone walking through the park, who then contacted 911. The cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds.

Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan says it was difficult to identify the body and contact next of kin, as Sanford’s pockets were completely empty, and all of his immediate family is deceased. He was identified by fingerprints as he had previously spent time in the Muscogee County Jail.

Bryan says it was clear the body had been in the park for hours before police were called.

“My deputy, Elizabeth Allison, said that she felt like he had been there for about 4 hours. Rigor mortis was present and so was lividity. Rigor mortis is a stiffening of the body, and lividity is the settling of the blood in the lower extremities. We’ve had them at night where 4 hours, you know, hey, yeah, he’d been there about 4 hours, but that’s during the night when it’s dark and things like that. But this is during the daytime, so that does make a difference.”

Buddy Bryan – Muscogee County Coroner

The call came into CPD just before 7 p.m. According to the coroner’s assessment, officials believe Sanford was killed around 2 p.m. or 3 p.m., in broad daylight.

CPD’s homicide unit is investigating. No arrests have been made so far.

Compared to last year, homicide numbers are trending downward. We have reached the halfway point of 2022 and Sanford’s death marks the 20th homicide this year. Last year at this time, there were 35.