First there was the report of a riderless motorcycle about 2:49 a.m. Sunday, speeding down a shoulder of Interstate 45 in south Dallas, at about 80 miles per hour.
But it was about five hours later before officers found the body of the rider, 38-year-old Thomas Davidson of Dallas, beneath a bridge, about a quarter mile back from where his 2005 Suzuki eventually crashed.
Davidson still wore his motorcycle helmet, but a witness reported seeing homeless people rifling through his pockets and fleeing with his wallet, said Senior Cpl. Kevin Janse, police spokesman.
He apparently fell about 26 feet from the bridge above that area, Janse said.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It took several more hours for police to piece together the chronology of the wreck.
A witness called police to report seeing the motorcycle hit a left-hand wall on a bridge over Taylor Street, near the intersection of Interstate 30 and where U.S. 75 merges with Interstate 45.
The witness also reported seeing the rider go over a bridge, but the witness left before officers arrived, out of fear that traffic in the area made it dangerous to stay, Janse said.
Meanwhile, the Suzuki apparently kept going for at least a quarter mile, Janse said, prompting the reports of riderless motorcycle.
"Officers arrived to find the motorcycle, but no rider," Janse said. "They thought there could be a chance a witness may have driven him to the hospital or that he walked off.
"They checked roof tops of low buildings and all under the ramp itself."
Officers searched for an hour, but could not find the rider.
But at 7:20 a.m., police got another report.
"A passerby saw two people going through the pockets of a man under the bridge," Janse said. "That man had a motorcycle helmet on so officers put two and two together and determined this was our rider."
Police could not immediately identify the dead man because his wallet had been stolen, Janse said.
They subsequently determined the Suzuki was registered to Davidson and then they contacted his family, who identified him, Janse said.
Officers on Tuesday were still trying to find the people who took his wallet, Janse said.
Also, police supervisors were reviewing the case to determine if they could have found Davidson sooner, Janse said.