James 'Bud' King: Body discovered in DeKalb County woods, death ruled accidental

Update: According to the family, the DeKalb County Medical Examiner's Office has ruled the death of James "Bud" Jeffrey King as accidental. A visitation will take place from 4 to 8 p.m. March 10 at Turner & Son's Funeral Home at 2773 N. Decatur Road, Decatur. The memorial service will be held at 11:30 a.m. March 11 at Rehoboth Baptist Church, 2997 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker. A GoFundMe has been set up to help the family. 


A family's frantic search for a man known and loved for volunteering with Tucker High School athletics may have come to a tragic end.

A man's body was discovered in a wooded area near the 1000 block of Mariners Court just before 2 p.m. on Saturday. Police told FOX 5 Atlanta that James "Bud" King's family reported to the scene and positively identified the body as their loved one.

"It's not how we wanted to find him," said Richard King, Bud's nephew.

DeKalb County police said they are waiting for the Medical Examiner's Office to confirm whether it's him.

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James "Bud" King's family reported to the scene and identified the man found in the creek as their missing loved one.

The cause of death has not been revealed yet.

Where was James 'Bud' King last seen?

Bud was last seen getting on a MARTA bus last Saturday after eating at an Applebee's in Tucker.

The 57-year-old has volunteered for Tucker High School athletics for decades.

"Everyone knows him, is aware of him, but no one has seen him since Saturday night," Richard said.

The search for James Bud King comes to an end

On Thursday, friends and family members of Bud searched in the wooded areas off of Memorial Drive in Decatur.

"We're hoping and praying that he's still alive somewhere and that he's not lying in a ditch, hurt or suffering or that someone has done something bad to him. We just want our family home," Richard told FOX 5.

FOX 5 Atlanta was there as Richard organized an extensive search to find his uncle.

Saturday afternoon, Richard told FOX 5 someone found his uncle in the Snapfinger Creek bed near Hairston Road.


James "Bud" King  (Supplied)

"I'm just hoping he didn't lay there and suffer," King said.

King and his family had been leading the search after they said they felt the DeKalb County Police Department wasn't doing enough to find him.

"We’re knocking on door after door because it didn't seem like we were getting the help we needed," Richard said.

By asking for surveillance video from MARTA and different businesses, the family said they were able to figure out that Bud fell asleep on the MARTA bus he had taken to get home Saturday night. He missed his stop.

At the end of the route, the driver told him to get off the bus. 

According to Richard and the family, Bud then got on another bus to get back home, but fell asleep again and missed his stop again.

He finally got off near Hairston Road and they said surveillance video showed him walking past the Chevron station at Central Drive and Hairston, just down the street from the creek. 

Mike Hammett said he saw the family post that information on social media and came to help search the area for Bud.

He was the one who found the body.

James "Bud" King's family reported to the scene and identified the man found in the creek as their missing loved one.

Hammett knew Bud from Tucker High School.

"I graduated there in 1990. He was always around every practice and every game. Then, I came to find out he kept doing that for 30 years!" Hammett said. 

Bud was a Tucker High School legend.

He volunteered with their sports teams for more than 30 years.

There's even a framed picture of Bud at the Applebee's restaurant in Tucker, which Bud was known to frequent.

It's the same Applebee’s where Bud was last seen alive Saturday.

"He has a big heart for Tucker, and everyone knows it. He just loved being there," Hammett said. 

While the King family was heartbroken they weren't able to find him alive, Richard said they're also humbled by the help they got from friends like Hammett and Tucker High School staff.

"So many people have spent money and taken time off work. They walked through the woods in the rain, searched in groups in these dangerous areas. I love every one of them. I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart," Richard said. 

But now that the search is over, the family wants answers about how Bud died.

"We'll still be knocking on doors with the coaches from the school. We'll still be looking for video. We want to know what happened and why," King said. 

Unfortunately, Richard said the family doesn't really trust the DeKalb County Police Department to help them get the answers they seek. 

"Absolutely not. If it wasn't for our family, the people who have reached out on Facebook, on the internet, we still would have zero. We haven't got anything from them at all," he said.

FOX 5 Atlanta reached out to the DeKalb County Police Department about the investigation, they told us it’s too early to determine the cause of death.