A 29-year-old homeless man who was found dead Monday behind a strip mall on South Central Avenue in Medford succumbed to hypothermia, police said.
An autopsy determined there was no foul play involved in the death of Elijah Joseph Pickard-Aguilar, who was discovered near railroad tracks behind the strip mall in the 800 block of South Central Avenue, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said.
State medical examiner Dr. James Olson, who performed the autopsy, ruled Pickard-Aguilar's death as accidental.
Pickard-Aguilar was known to frequent the Ashland area, where his last contact with police was in 2008.
An employee from nearby La Clinica Women's Health Center discovered Pickard-Aguilar's body as she was walking to work and reported it to authorities at about 10 a.m.
Budreau said it did not appear that Pickard-Aguilar was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of his death.
"We won't know for sure until the toxicology report comes back, but we didn't see evidence at the scene that he'd been drinking or using drugs," Budreau said.
Pickard-Aguilar was not dressed for the cold temperatures that have descended on the Rogue Valley in the past week, Budreau said.
"It was 28 degrees when we discovered him that morning," Budreau said. "And it was a bit colder that night."
Investigators initially treated the death as suspicious, which is protocol in all unattended deaths, Budreau said.
"We always treat situations like this as a potential crime until we learn differently," Budreau said. "We go over the scene looking for evidence, and we don't want to miss something important."
Pickard-Aguilar was found partially clothed despite the below-freezing temperatures, which is something police sometimes see in hypothermia cases, Budreau said.
"A lot of times when you experience hypothermia, you get the sensation that you are overheating," Budreau said. "These victims will often shed clothing before they die."
Pickard-Aguilar had only a few possessions with him when he died. Budreau did not know whether he had another camp somewhere else.
"It's tragic that he died only a few feet from a busy street like South Central," Budreau said. "If he had been in view of the street, someone might have seen him in a bad state that night; they could have reported him and gotten him medical attention."
Pickard-Aguilar's family members have been notified of his death. They live in Northern California, Budreau said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.