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Hypothermia led to deaths of father, son, examiner finds

SoVaNow.com / February 25, 2021




The Medical Examiner’s Office in Roanoke has determined that hypothermia was the cause of death for two men, father and son, who were found lying dead in the yard of their Bethel Road home on Sunday afternoon.

The deceased are John Wayne Church, 70, and Jonathan Church, 28, who lived on Bethel Road between the towns of Halifax and Scottsburg. Their lifeless bodies were found outside in the winter cold by a family friend who went to check on them shortly before 3 p.m. Sunday.

Halifax County Sheriff Fred Clark said authorities do not know why the men froze outdoors at their residence. The power was on inside the house when deputies arrived at the scene.

“It is undetermined at this time why they were outside pending further investigation and additional reports from the [medical examiner’s] office,” Clark said.

The men appeared to have been outdoors for a couple of days when their remains were discovered, Clark said.

He said the Sheriff’s Office has requested a toxicology report from the medical examiner “but that may take weeks to get back.” Pending further information, their deaths remain a mystery.

Jonathan Church was an accomplished musician who offered music lessons to local residents, according to a friend who praised his talent. Obituary information posted online by Brooks Lyon Funeral Home states that he loved old cars, music and playing piano. He is survived by his mother and two uncles. No services have been set at this time.

No obituary information for his father, John Wayne Church, was immediately available.

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