A body discovered in the basement of a home in Burlington on January 12th has led investigators to determine the man’s death was a tragic accident.

The body has been identified as 53-year-old Ricky Dean Wixom. Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Rick Rahn, says the autopsy determined Wixom’s death was an accident.

Rahn says the autopsy determined the injuries Wixom suffered were consistent with a fall and there was no foul play involved, so they have ruled it an accidental death. The owner of the home said Wixom had been working on the basement steps in September. That was the last time someone had seen him, and Wixom’s family filed a missing person’s report for him on October 12th.

Rahn says it was not unusual that Wixom’s body wasn’t discovered any earlier. “The home was not well kept and it’s a type of basement that people rarely went down into,” Rahn explains. “It’s an older home that had a dirt floor and a limestone foundation, and so no one really went down there, and therefore he was not discovered until sometime later.”

Rahn says the body was discovered after the homeowner thought he heard water running in the basement and called his church, and the church helped him find a plumber. The plumber found the body after going into the basement to check on the water situation. Rahn says it is hard to say if Wixom may’ve survived if he had been found earlier.

“There’s not way to be able to say that, because we just don’t know all the injuries which he received,” Rahn says, “in part because there was a decomposition of the body, so we are limited on some of that information.” Rahn says it’s an unusual case because of the circumstances.

“It is different. But I will tell you that I have also had a case where a female went missing for a number of months. Law enforcement searched the basement for her and did not find her until three or four months later,” according to Rahn. “So, it happens — even though it is unusual — but it does happen.”

Rahn says the findings of the autopsy and other information gathered in the investigation allowed them to rule the death accidental and close the investigation.