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Officials ID body found in woods

Authorities may never know why a West Coast entrepreneur with no apparent local connections came to Red Wing and killed himself in the woods off Hay Creek Trail.

Sahag Avedisian's body was found March 13 in Featherstone Township by a man tapping maple trees.

Goodhue County authorities believe Avedisian, 77, was living in Ann Arbor, Mich., in public housing. He apparently packed his belongings in a duffel bag sometime last summer and took a train to the Twin Cities, then to Red Wing.

Capt. Pat Thompson of the Goodhue County Sheriff's Office said deputies were able to place Avedisian at a local motel in mid-August. He stayed in the Red Wing area for up to a week, though he had no relatives here, Thompson said.

Avedisian had no face-to-face contact with his family in more than 10 years, but sent them a letter last summer saying he was in Red Wing, Thompson said.

Detectives got Avedisian's name off a blank check he was carrying, Thompson said. The Minnesota Regional Coroner's Office in Hastings used dental records to positively identify him.

Authorities also found a duffel bag with the body, Thompson said. They are still trying to determine where Avedisian got the handgun he used to kill himself, and they do not know how he got there.

Avedisian was not listed as a missing person, Thompson said. Family members told authorities he had talked about suicide in the past, but they had no reason to believe he was suicidal at the time of his death.

In 1967, Avedisian opened a tiny cheese store on Vine Street in North Berkeley, Calif. The shop, which gained national acclaim, has since been converted into a worker-owned collective and is still open today as a bakery, cheese shop and pizzeria.