Another cold case?

Man’s Dumpster death remains a mystery
Andy Ouriel
Mar 8, 2014


Lee Naus was just 21 when he died 15 years ago.

But why he died remains a mystery.

The Lindsey man’s body was discovered inside a garbage truck during the early morning of Oct. 1, 1999.

He was last seen alive sleeping outside Bud’s Tavern on West State Street, according to a Fremont police report, where a garbage truck driver was getting ready to empty a Dumpster.

An autopsy performed by Lucas County deputy coroner Cynthia Beisser determined Naus accidentally died as a result of being crushed to death in the truck's compactor.

But police never determined how Naus ended up in the Dumpster.

“No one at the city is going to answer your questions regarding this matter," Fremont Mayor Jim Ellis told the Register. "It is an old case, and so the prudent thing is to promptly provide you with the documentary record and have you refer to it.”

Get Sunday's Register to find out what, if anything, Fremont police determined about the death of Lee Naus. 

Click here for the ePaper, for home delivery or buy a Register on Sunday at a newsstand near you. 



Great job SR! This is another case involving the Lucas County Coroner's office and the failure to look into the facts leading up to a death. It arises in Sandusky County. However the problem is much larger than Sandusky County, Ohio.

This case was reported to federal authorities back in 2001 with a case out of Defiance County (Rocha) and a case from Ottawa/Erie County. (Matthes) The cases involved very suspect law enforcement conduct in the deaths and the Lucas County Coroner's office going along with the outcome desired by LEO's even though the facts strongly suggested otherwise.


i worked with this young man in 1996/1997..


nobody in that county is going to provide the truth about anything. i bet it's their worst fear when the phone rings & it's the register calling with questions. keep it up, register.

Julie R.

Sort of puts one in mind of corrupt Cuyahoga County. Didn't Russo testify that the only time they ever got nervous about being caught is when reporters from the Plain Dealer came snooping around asking too many questions & requesting records? Didn't he also say that's when they would get busy shredding the records?

Of course, a lot of people in Cuyahoga County blamed the Plain Dealer, claiming they covered up the corruption for over a decade and only got into it when they knew the FEDS were moving in.

At least nobody would ever be able to say that about the Register!


Good journalism doesn't just happen.
It's rare.
It's here.
Own it.



Ralph J.

How did Cynthia Beisser determine Naus accidentally died as a result of being crushed to death in the truck's compactor? Maybe somebody murdered him and threw his body into the dumpster knowing that the body would be buried in a landfill.


You'd probably have to ask her but more than likely the injuries were consistent with being crushed to death in a compactor. So if someone murdered him, they would have had to do it with a compactor.


Maybe he got drunk and in his drunken state thought it was funny to climb in the dumpster. If a person is drunk enough he may not wake up in time to say "no, please don't crush me in the compactor!" Some people do dumb stuff and end up dead. Every death doesn't have some dark secret behind it. I would be willing to bet this isn't a cover up

JMOP's picture

What were the temps like that night? Did he walk there? It was the beginning of October, cooler nights, rain perhaps. He might've crawled in looking for coverage and passed out.


Rumor has it Sheriff Gangwer had a run in with him at buds the night in question. 80% of Buds patrons back then were Sheriffs and Fretroit City surprise no one saw anything is it?


nice rumor

Simple Enough II

The times I saw sheriff Gangwer out I didn't see him drink, and that was at wild game feeds & such. Just what I know. I can't beloved it was that long ago. I do beloved it was pretty cold out that night. I know an uncle of his and yes there are always rumors.

Simple Enough II

The times I saw sheriff Gangwer out I didn't see him drink, and that was at wild game feeds & such. Just what I know. I can't beloved it was that long ago. I do beloved it was pretty cold out that night. I know an uncle of his and yes there are always rumors.


Rumors don't make facts.


That's why I said rumor, I didn't through it out as a fact. I lived in Fretroit back then, that's what was said by many people. I don't KNOW what happened at all.


Sheriff Gangwer was not in that bar that night. He did not go to bars to drink, nor did he drink much at all. He did attend community functions etc. Please do not drag his name through the mud unless you know the facts. There, was however, a member/ex member of the department in that bar that night.


Whatever it was, I remember the Sheriffs department being the suspect talked about around town. I was not there. I have never talked to anyone who was there. I don't KNOW anything as fact. That's why I put up the RUMOR notification. I heard a lot of things said about that night, can't confirm nor deny because I wasn't there.


I do not know any of the people mentioned.... however, someone could have threw him in the dumpster as a joke since he was passed out drunk... thinking that he would wake up in the morning and think WTF how did I get here! Possibly drinking themselves.... never thinking about what if the garbage truck comes.... everything is not always a cover up.


If the person that threw him in the dumpster as a joke and then the young man died and they did not report it, it would be a cover up in my opinion. I remember when that happened. If memory serves me correctly, he called from across a street to get a ride, then went back and sat on the steps in front of the bar. That was the last anyone saw him. He was waiting for his ride. Or that is what was reported at the time (all based on memory)

John Harville

It all depends on the story and who the SR wants to demonize. Facts be damned.

Matt Westerhold

Hey John Harville. Is there something in the news article you believe is inaccurate or are you just throwing it out there without substantiating your statement? It doesn't seem right to make a complaint about the work people do without having the ability to back up what you say. Or is that just who you are?


good one matt w.


law enforcement were familiar with him. when i worked with him, he was on work release from jail for drug offenses. he told me himself.


Mr Westerhold:

I read the story in your Sunday edition and it is excellent. May I suggest you re post this article with the complete story as it would likely generate many more comments. The full published story answers many of the questions of posters herein and raises many more.

Thank you in advance for your consideration

Matt Westerhold

We will post the entire story later today. Thanks for the suggestion.