The body of an adult male found in a remote area of the Frederick city watershed was taken to the state medical examiner's office yesterday, and police investigators have not ruled out the possibility that it could be that of a National Science Foundation psychologist missing since February from his Carroll County home.
The remains were found about 6:30 p.m. Monday by a man walking his dog along a dirt road in the City of Frederick Municipal Forest north of the city, said Maj. Greg Shipley, state police spokesman.
"It's a very remote area" but the trails are popular with walkers and bikers, Shipley said. "The body was just off the dirt road in a thickly wooded area."
Rodney R. Cocking, 59, disappeared Feb. 23 from his home in the 2800 block of Sams Creek Road in Taylorsville. A man of reliable habits, he had not contacted friends, family or his NSF office, where he was director of its developmental and learning sciences program.
A Frederick County contractor who did work at Cocking's home and who police say owed him more than $300,000 was charged June 6 with murdering him. Randall Henry Gerlach, 56, of Mount Airy is being held on $1 million bail at Carroll County Detention Center.
It was the first time in Carroll that murder charges had been filed without a body, according to State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes, although such prosecutions have increased in Maryland and nationwide.
"We don't know if this is Dr. Cocking," Shipley said yesterday. "Anything is possible. We have to wait for the medical examiner's report."
Maryland State Police and Frederick County sheriff's deputies searched the area yesterday, assisted by a forensic anthropologist, Shipley said.
The body could be identified as soon as today, he added.