Body found inside manhole in Detroit believed to be missing 19-year-old

Firefighters prepare to remove a body from a manhole cover on Detroit's west side.
Firefighters prepare to remove a body from a manhole cover on Detroit’s west side.

For two months, Brenda Burton searched dozens of vacant houses for her 19-year-old son, scoured abandoned lots and posted missing signs around their west-side neighborhood.

She became so distraught that she quit working and rarely ate. She stopped attending community college classes.

On Saturday afternoon, a badly decomposed body was found inside a manhole near Sorrento and Chalfonte. After firefighters illuminated the manhole with a flash light, Burton had no doubt that the body was of her son, Osean Lockett.

“My sons said, ‘Yea, Mom, that’s him,'” Burton said.  “We searched that area over and over.”

Detroit police are investigating the death as a homicide.

Burton said she last saw her son, a West Side Academy graduate, on July 6 when she dropped him off at a gas station to meet friends. The mom and son often kept in touch, so when Lockett didn’t answer his phone for hours, she knew something was wrong.

A HAZMAT team wearing Tyvex-protective suits was called to remove the body from the manhole.

Police said it will take several days to positively identify the body, but they suspect it is Lockett.

Osean Lockett

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.