Montezuma County sheriff Steve Nowlin said the death is under investigation as a homicide until proven otherwise. The cause of death is unknown, and investigators said they believed Evans died several weeks ago where the body was discovered.
An autopsy will be performed next week to try and determine how he died. A toxicology analysis will be done if possible.
A passerby discovered Evans’ body Tuesday afternoon lying in a grassy patch within a field of sagebrush southeast of Cortez near McElmo Creek. Nowlin said there were no signs of external trauma.
His identity confirmed Thursday morning by Nowlin and Montezuma County Coroner George Deavers.
“We were able to identify him through physical features, including scars, tattoos and dental records,” said Nowlin. A wallet with identification was not found on him.
The discovery of the body triggered an investigation and extensive search of the area by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and United Search and Rescue.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, searchers fanned out across a square-mile of the rural area just southeast of Cortez city limits. Some of Evans’ personal items were found nearby.
Nowlin said Evans had recently been reported missing by family and friends. He reportedly lived at the Vista Verde Trailer Park, east of Cortez and has family in the Four Corners area.
“The investigation is ongoing,” Nowlin said.
The property owner has been notified of the situation, Nowlin said. There are several user trails in the vicinity, but Evans was not near them.
“How he died is a mystery at this point, but we may know more after the autopsy,” Deavers said. “The family is devastated.”
Charles’ uncle, Keith Evans, of Cortez, said he was a intelligent man with a lot of potential.
“He was exceptionally bright, and had grasped existentialism by the time he was 13,” Keith said. “He was very dedicated to his family.”
Keith said Charles was a hardworking man, and could be depended on to help him on his ranch over the years, putting in irrigation lines and planting trees.
“We’re struggling with figuring out what happened and have been looking for him,” Keith said. “He had earned his GED and really had a lot of potential.”