BEDFORD - In a grim scene reminiscent of a mystery novel, Bedford County Historical Society Executive Director Gillian Leach opened a door and looked outside the society's hall on Jan. 23 - only to find a dead man lying at the base of a nearby silo.
In the week since, police have said almost nothing about the unidentified body, which Leach said lay frozen outside the refurbished barn the society calls home.
"I thought, 'Is somebody playing a joke? Is somebody hurt?'" Leach said Tuesday.
She waited 30 minutes, unable to phone the police because the telephone lines were down, before two society colleagues arrived and inspected the scene.
State police Trooper Jeff Petucci confirmed Tuesday that a man's body was found, noting that few details will likely be released as the investigation continues.
Plainclothes officers investigating the site last week told Leach the man carried a Greyhound bus ticket bound for Ohio, she said.
They also told her he was carrying political buttons - possibly as an out-of-state visitor at President Barack Obama's inaugural ceremony two days earlier, the troopers reportedly said.
Leach said the troopers told her that a passenger had been reported as leaving a westbound Greyhound bus in the day preceding the body's discovery.
Greyhound logs indicate a passenger in Bedford County - apparently on a Virginia-to-Michigan route - asked to be released Jan. 23 alongside the turnpike, company spokesman Timothy Stokes said.
Greyhound policy in such a situation is to release the passenger in a safe area and inform local police, Stokes said, which the driver reportedly did, contacting state police.
The passenger's name isn't indicated, Stokes said, but the timing of his release and the investigating troopers' comments would suggest a connection. Early-morning weekday routes from the Washington, D.C., area to Ohio and Michigan pass through Bedford County before dawn, according to posted Greyhound schedules.
But how a bus passenger, apparently traveling home to Ohio, turned up dead alongside a Pennsylvania silo on a frigid January morning remains a mystery.
Police haven't released any identifying information or a cause of death, though the man apparently fell or jumped from the top of the silo.
When Leach tried to make a phone call after finding the body, she realized the line was disconnected - his body had pulled the cable to the ground, cutting the barn off from the outside world, she said.
"I didn't have a cellphone, and I couldn't leave here," she said.
Investigators reportedly told Leach and her colleagues the man was black, in his 30s or 40s. It's not yet clear whether he carried any identifying information.
Leach said police asked whether any society staff knew the man. The bus ticket will likely lead the investigation to Ohio, police reportedly told her.
"I hope they identify him," she said. "I hope they can find his family."