The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

September 16, 2013

I.D. suspected but uncertain

OTTUMWA — Investigators continue to look into the circumstances surrounding the discovery of a body found in the Des Moines River over the weekend.

"As the investigation [continues], we're pretty sure we have the identity of the individual," said Ottumwa Police Chief Tom McAndrew.

Investigators talked to the family of the man they believe may be the decedent. Getting a description from the family, McAndrew said, helped reinforce the initial police theory.

Until that's certain, however, they won't be offering that man's identity publicly.

"We hope to have the identity confirmed within a couple weeks," McAndrew said.

He did say the person they have in mind as the victim is not from Ottumwa.

"The preliminary investigation does not indicate foul play," said Chief McAndrew.

The Ottumwa Fire Department said they performed a recovery mission around 1 p.m. Saturday. The body was recovered from the Des Moines River at the Blackhawk access point near the boat ramp.

A reader contacted the Courier, saying she and her husband found the body. The couple was going kayaking on the Des Moines River on Saturday, she said.

On that day, police said the body appeared to be that of a middle-aged white male. As part of their ongoing investigation, police sent the body to the State Medical Examiner for an autopsy.

An associate state medical examiner, Dr. Jonathan Thompson, said the actual autopsy itself has been completed. Cause of death typically comes under a broad category, the doctor said, like natural causes, suicide, homicide or undetermined.

But that takes time. For example, it could be a month before the toxicology report comes back.

Until the proper tests are complete, cause of death and identity officially remain unknown.

— To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark

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