KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Knox County Sheriff's Office has identified the remains of a body found in Montgomery Village in South Knoxville on July 15. KCSO told Local 8 News there are no signs of foul play.
The Knox County Regional Forensics Center identified the remains as Kyle Matthew Pearson, 32, of Knoxville.
Juanita Vanderwill told Local 8 News Pearson was a man who adored his 5-year-old son, Lucas.
"We'd have children's games, and he was just a really nice man, who loved his son," said Vanderwill.
Knoxville police said people who knew Pearson reported him missing nearly two months ago. Investigators said he had a drug problem, lost his job and threatened suicide.
Vanderwill knew of his troubles and believes those issues may have led to his death.
"When I found out that it was him, I prayed that it wasn't because he had a lot to offer someone," said Vanderwill.
The cause of death is still unknown, according to the Knox County Sheriff's Office.
The skeletal remains were reported on the evening of July 15 just after 8 p.m. A deputy at the scene said children found the body while playing in the woods about a mile behind the apartment complex.
"It breaks my heart because I'm like, 'These babies are too young to see things like this,'" said Casshai Stepehens, Montgomery Village resident. "We're here to protect our kids," she added.
Stephens said the only thing that could've protected the kids who made the shocking discovery was their word. She said neighbors had heard rumors a body was behind the complex for at least three months before KCSO conducted its investigation, and that none of their parents believed them.
"If my baby would've came to me and said, 'Mama, there was a dead body,' [I would have said], 'Come on baby show me where this body at because we got to do something, we gotta call the authorities,'" said Stephens.
Meanwhile, other residents blame the kids' chilling find in the woods on their parents.
"I think people should pay more attention to their kids," said Richard Branch.
This is an ongoing investigation. More details will be released as they become available.