Police identify body found in south Durham

DURHAM They have now idetified the body as Willis Bobbylee Portee, 29, of Obie Drive. Police found Portee Friday morning in a heavily wooded area off Woodcroft Parkway.

The cause of death is still under investigation, but police say there were no obvious signs of trauma. Portee was reported missing shortly before Christmas.

Some Durham residents have said they wonder if the body, now identified as 29-year-old Willis Bobbylee Portee, could be related to a rash of neighborhood burglaries.

"The same time this person went missing is about the same time all the crime here stopped," said Sean Stonham with Woodcroft Neighborhood Watch.

Stonham leads the neighborhood watch for about 2,000 homes in the Woodcroft area.

"Six months or so, there's been a lot of robberies, doors kicked into homes, things stolen, a lot of cars opened up," he said.

The tipping point may have come Friday morning, but concerned resident Susan Mrache says the search actually started Thursday.

"They chased someone there awhile ago who they suspected had been robbing houses in the neighborhood, and they were looking for him last night and couldn't find him," Mrache said.

Police won't confirm that, but sources tell ABC11 Eyewitness News the body is a person police think was responsible for a number of break-ins.

Sources also say that person may have been hiding from police and possibly died from being out in the cold.

"I'm surprised they didn't see the body sooner if it's been there for awhile cause these trails are used all the time," concerned resident Virginia Politano said.

For now a lot of the neighborhood remains on lock down.

"People here are a little scared and worried you know nothing like this has happened," Stonham said.

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