Police in Fort Simpson, N.W.T. found a body during a ground search for Billy Cholo, who has been missing since mid-December.

About 40 to 50 volunteers set out Thursday morning searching for the missing 45-year-old man. Shortly after the search began, a body was found behind the health centre. RCMP believe the body is Cholo's.

Edward Cholo, Billy's uncle, was with RCMP when the body was found.

"Somebody told us to look in the gazebo, because everyone was talking about it," he said.

"So he looked in one side, I looked in the other side where the padlock was on. And where the cop was looking, the padlock wasn't on, it was unlocked. And I guess when he opened the door, he saw his foot and looked in to make sure.

Billy Allen Cholo

Billy Allen Cholo was last seen in Fort Simpson Dec. 18. (Facebook)

"When we got back into the truck, we stopped in front of the hospital. That's when he told me we found him. It took us about 10 minutes into the search."

Edward Cholo says his nephew did have a problem with alcohol. He says he planned to go into detox this month.

He wants people to know he doesn't think this was the cause of Billy's death.

"He doesn't drink anywhere 'til he passes out," he said. "He always manages to get home before he gets too drunk. So I don't know what he's doing in that gazebo so close to his place."

RCMP say they are treating it as a sudden death, which means it will be investigated as a homicide.

Earlier in the day police said the N.W.T.'s major crimes unit was in the village following up on leads. A forensic identification unit is now also on its way to Fort Simpson.