The two days it took the coroner to identify a body found in a trash can earlier this month were spent by June McCarthy and her family in fear, and in prayer.
That's because McCarthy had good reason to think the body would turn out to be that of her son, Michael Metz, who has been missing for more than a year.
The last McCarthy heard about her son was a troubling voicemail message left on her cellphone last summer: "We have found Michael Metz in a trash can," the anonymous caller said.
But the decomposed body found on Fortune Drive in Lexington on Feb. 1 turned out to be that of a Lexington woman who had been reported missing in December. That is of little solace to McCarthy, who still does not know what became of her teenage son, or who left the voicemail message.
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Metz, 19, has not contacted his family since December 2009, McCarthy said. The last sign they had that he was alive was when they heard he had been arrested in Lexington in May 2010.
Sgt. Jennifer Taylor, a Fayette County jail spokeswoman, said Metz was jailed for sexual abuse, but he was released about two months later.
Lisa Lamb, spokeswoman for the state department of corrections, said Metz never spent time in state prison. Family members said they thought the charges against Metz had been dropped.
One of Metz's friends told the family that he had stopped by a few days after he was released from jail, but the trail went cold after that, she said.
That is, until McCarthy received the voicemail message last June — about a year after Metz spoke with his friend. The message was left by a female caller. McCar thy saved the message and played it for a reporter.
The woman identifies herself possibly as "Lieutenant Dan" or "Lieutenant Jan" from Lexington.
The call quality improves as the woman goes on to say Metz's body was found in a trash can. She asks McCarthy to return her call.
"We really need to talk to you. It's about your son. He has passed away," the woman on the message said.
However, the caller did not leave a call-back number, and the caller's number was blocked. She never called again.
The caller's statement that a body had been found in a trash can in Lexington in June 2011 was untrue. Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said police did not find a body in a trash can last summer, leaving McCarthy to question what really prompted the call.
"If this is some kind of joke, it is a cruel one," she said through tears as the message played.
Roberts said police took a missing-person report for Metz in August. The case is still open.
The Fayette County coroner identified the body found in the trash can on Fortune Drive as that of Sharon Cave-Howard. Cave-Howard's son, Mark Cave, 27, has been charged with murder and tampering with evidence.
It came as welcome news, McCarthy said, that her son might be alive. But now the family is back to square one, and without closure.
"I'm happy that my son could still be out there, but I'm regretful for the family that just went through this. My thoughts are with them," McCarthy said.
Metz grew up with McCar thy in Florida before moving with her to Lexington in 2006, she said. He was a rambunctious child, and McCar thy said she had to attach a dog leash to a belt loop on his pants to keep him in line.
She laughed as she recalled an instance at Walt Disney World when Metz was 5 or 6: He attempted to bite Mickey Mouse while on the leash.
"He said, 'If you're going to treat me like a dog, I'm going to act like one,'" she said.
As he grew older, he became an avid and talented skateboarder who went by the names "Zed" and "Psycho Mike." He could often be found at the Woodland Skatepark.
The family had its share of problems — Metz spent some time in foster care when he was 17 — but he would have no reason to want his family to think he was dead, McCar thy said when asked whether he or one of his friends could have left the message.
McCarthy said she and Metz's brothers, Jason and Jonathon Metz, and sister-in-law, Tiffany Metz, have been searching for him for months, staying at local homeless shelters during the search.
"I just want him to know that we're looking for him and that we love him and that we want to see him, even just for a second," she said.
If he didn't want to talk to McCarthy, he would want to talk to his brothers, she said.
McCarthy asked that anyone with information contact Jonathan Metz at (606) 571-4784 or reach her by leaving a message at The Salvation Army in Lexington, where she has been staying. McCar thy, who had returned to Florida for a time, found herself homeless after coming back to Lexington to look for her son.