COCKEYSVILLE, Md. (WJZ) — The body found in a recycling center in Cockeysville earlier this week had been dismembered, police said Thursday.

Workers at the recycling facility found the body wrapped in a tarp just after noon on Tuesday. The limbs and head were gone when the body was found; just the torso remained.

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Police identified the man on Thursday night as John Ernest Stevens, 42, of Laurel. Stevens had been reported missing on December 3.


An autopsy is still ongoing, but Baltimore County police said they’re fairly confident the death will be ruled a homicide.

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John Ernest Stevens. Courtesy: Laurel Police

Baltimore County Police spokesperson Jennifer Peach said it’s too early to rule out any circumstances that may have led to Stevens’ death, including possible gang affiliation.

A source told WJZ workers heard a loud thump and tried to grab the body, which was wrapped in a tarp, but it was too heavy. Workers had to pause the belt to remove it.

At first, they thought it was a Halloween decoration or a mannequin, the source said. When they learned it was a body, they called police.

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Harford and Cecil Counties also send recyclables to the facility, police said, so it’s still unclear where the body came from.