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Written by Samantha Lambert, '12

Madison Man

The “Madison Man” at Indian Fort

"Madison Man" was a nickname ascribed to an unidentified body found in the woods below Indian Fort in November 1993. This nickname developed due to evidence and circumstances associated with the man's discovery and lost identity. The body was finally identified in 2005 as that of missing Wisconsin man Douglas Martin Prouty.


On Thanksgiving Day in 1993, hikers on a ridge at Indian Fort first thought they could see a body down in the woods below their vantage point and notified the police. The authorities then searched the area unsuccessfully well into the next day, and called in the state police to aide in the search. The body was finally discovered at 1:45 pm on Friday at a campsite off the Dark Shadow trail.

Evidence from the campsite scene led investigators to believe he had only been at the site just one night before his death, and that he had been deceased anywhere from two days to a week before being discovered by the hikers. Cause of death was ruled to be asphyxiation by a plastic bag secured about his head - state police revealed however, they did not believe foul play was involved. To this day, a definitive cause of death has not been determined.

Why "Madison Man"?

Aside from being found within Madison County, Kentucky, the unidentified man located at Indian Fort was found with only a few identifiable belongings, aside from the aforementioned plastic bag, which was from a grocery in Madison, Wisconsin. Furthermore, the vest he was wearing was from a manufacturing company located in Madison Heights, Michigan. With several items pointing toward the common thread of ‘Madison’ it quickly became the moniker for the John Doe.


In late 2005 a bulletin from the Kentucky State Police announced that the Madison man had finally been identified through the use of DNA comparison to that of his biological siblings. The john doe of 13 years was finally identified as Douglas Martin Prouty, and his remains were returned to his next of kin in Madison, Wisconsin.

Additional Resources

  • Berea Citizen, "KSP release sketch of man found dead by hikers Thanksgiving Day," 9 December 1993.

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