Waco police Officer Tracy Simonette carries several prescription bottles away from a car where a man was found dead Tuesday afternoon outside a former Jack in the Box restaurant near South University Parks Drive and Interstate 35.

Staff photo — Jerry Larson

The decomposed body of a man was found in an abandoned car at the former downtown Jack in the Box location, leading police to investigate the questionable death Tuesday afternoon, Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

Police were called to the former fast-food restaurant at 725 S. University Parks Drive at about 1:30 p.m. when a landscaping crew smelled a strong odor coming from a black four-door vehicle. Workers walked up to the car and found a man dead inside his car and immediately called police, Swanton said.

"In the parking lot, there was a vehicle that had been parked there. It seems to have been there for some time," Swanton said.

Crime scene technicians removed about a dozen prescription pill bottles from the car. Swanton said other drug paraphernalia was found inside the car, but it was unclear if the man died from medical complications or for other reasons.

"The car is locally registered and it does look like it has been lived in for some time, like possibly the person was living out of the vehicle," Swanton said. "There is quite a bit of medication in the car and other paraphernalia that may indicate he may be a diabetic or a drug user, but we are unsure at this point."

Police said foul play is not immediately suspected, but Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley ordered an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Swanton said police will continue investigating the incident as a questionable death.

The identity of the man was not immediately released pending notification of family, Swanton said.

Kristin Hoppa has been covering public safety and breaking news for the Tribune-Herald since January 2016. She worked in Northwest Missouri covering crime-related issues before her move to Central Texas. She is a University of Kansas graduate.

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