CEDAR RAPIDS, IA—Stunned friends and acquaintances expressed disbelief after learning that a corpse discovered in the woods the early Saturday morning was not Justin.
"When they said on the news that the cops had found a dead body, I just knew it had to be Justin," said Curt Bronner, who told reporters he always expected the corpse of his 23-year-old friend to be discovered in the exact manner described by the anchorman. "But then you find out it's someone else completely, and it's—well, it's really hard to process."
"Never in a million years did I think it wouldn't be him," Bronner added. "No matter how hard I try, I just can't imagine Justin not lying there."
According to a spokesperson for the Cedar Rapids Police Department, an emergency dispatcher received a call at approximately 8 a.m. Saturday that indicated a group of children playing in the woods near the Walgreens had stumbled upon a naked corpse draped over a tree stump, all of them assuming the body belonged to "that one Justin guy."
The spokesperson also said that while responding officers were certain beyond any doubt they would find Justin's remains, there was some debate en route to the scene over whether he was likely to have succumbed to alcohol poisoning, choked on his own vomit, inadvertently overdosed on painkillers, or accidentally killed himself while goofing around with a rifle.
Justin's roommate Derek Clouterman, 24, said he was still struggling to comprehend how it was possible his friend was not lying dead in the forest.
"Man, that sure sounds like Justin," said Clouterman, adding that he would be less shocked if it turned out Justin had been found floating in the lake after huffing amyl nitrate down by the pier. "Are they absolutely sure it's not him? I mean, maybe his face was beaten beyond recognition or something."
In addition, numerous sources confirmed they had seen the Pizza Hut employee the previous evening, claiming that Justin "seemed drunk as hell and looked like he was going to do something real stupid."
Pizza Hut manager Steven Patterson told reporters he immediately suspected the body was Justin's because his employee hadn't shown up for his 6 p.m. delivery shift.
"I got a bad feeling, because when he blows off work, he usually at least calls me all coked up with a ridiculous excuse," Patterson said. "Well, whatever happened, no one's heard from him. I would check down in the ravine or over by the train tracks just to be safe."
Added Patterson, "At the very least, they should probably bring Justin in as a suspect."