Pierce County deputies responded to a home in the 13000 block of Military Rd. E. for a welfare check Monday night and found a badly decomposed body inside, department officials said.
Evidence suggests the body is Brandon Zomalt, whose DNA was detected on blood-drenched items discovered on Aug. 13 along Peasley Canyon Road, said Det. Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department.
"There was flooring and carpet and items missing in the house that match what was recovered up in Auburn," Troyer said, adding they've also determined Zomalt was known to temporarily stay at the home.
Confirmation of the body's identity is pending from the Pierce County Medical Examiner. No suspects have been identified yet.
"Now that we have his body and the location where this homicide occurred, we'll be working with Auburn PD to get everything together," Troyer said. "And hopefully we'll be able to do some timelines, and get some people of interest, talk to some witnesses and talk to somebody who's responsible for this."
Records show that Zomalt has 11 arrests on his criminal record, for harassment, reckless driving, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest and negligent driving.
The police investigation into the mysterious case began when a uniformed off-duty federal agent driving along Peasley Canyon Road in a marked Department of Homeland Security vehicle spotted smoke coming from a brushy area about 15 feet off the roadway.
The officer pulled over and walked toward the fire with an extinguisher, then spotted a man standing beside a dark SUV near the fire. When the man saw the federal agent, he jumped in the SUV and fled the scene. The agent attempted to follow the man but he got away.
When the officer returned to the smoky fire, he made a disturbing discovery - the man had been burning flooring material, carpeting, clothing and towels that were covered with blood.
Police cordoned off the area and closed the roadway for nearly 24 hours while they collected evidence at the scene. Blood samples were sent to the Washington State Patrol crime lab, and that's where the Zomalt was identified through DNA testing.
Hirman said Auburn police would like to hear from anyone who knows anything about Zomalt.
"Anybody who knows him, we'd like a call," he said. "Anybody who knows who he associates with or who knows where he was staying, we would sure like to know that, and we have a tip line of 253-288-7403 for anyone to call with information about Mr. Zomalt."