A body discovered Tuesday floating in the Kansas River was identified this morning as that of a 21-year-old Lawrence man who had been missing since Oct. 15.
Dr. Carol Moddrell, Douglas County coroner, said she determined from medical records that the man was Cecil Dawes Jr. Moddrell announced the identity after completing an autopsy at noon today.
The body was discovered floating face-down about 25 feet from the banks along Burcham Park, about one-half mile upstream from the Kansas River Bridge.
Police were notified about the body at 4:43 p.m. Tuesday by several local residents who were at Burcham Park and saw the body floating in the river.
LAWRENCE firefighters, working from a rubber raft, pulled the body from the water at 6:05 p.m.
Chris Mulvenon, Lawrence police spokesman, said firefighters brought the body to the shore, where it was taken by Douglas County Ambulance Service personnel to Lawrence Memorial Hospital.
Authorities said Dawes was last seen alive Oct. 15 by a local woman who was riding in his car. The woman reported that Dawes either parked or accidentally drove the vehicle onto Union Pacific railroad tracks near North Third Street, just north of the old UP depot. The location is across the river and east of where Dawes' body was recovered.
Police said the woman told officers that Dawes told her to get out of the car and hide in some bushes near the scene.
The woman reported that after she did so, she heard a car drive up and then heard a car door close. After that, she said, she saw no trace of Dawes.
Mulvenon said no wounds were discovered on Dawes' body that would indicate he was shot or stabbed. He said comments about other possible wounds would be "speculation at this time."
Lawrence Police Chief Ron Olin said the incident is being investigated as an "unattended death." So far, Olin said, investigators have found no evidence of foul play.
However, Olin said that in an unattended death investigation, investigators begin with the assumption that foul play was involved and then try to rule out that possibility.
TO DAWES' friends and family members, the incident remains a mystery.
John Schmidt, a roommate of Dawes, said Dawes was a highly responsible person who seemed to be getting along well in his job as a Lawrence Security Patrol officer.
Schmidt said Dawes had some financial problems and had been disenrolled from Kansas University the day before he disappeared because a tuition check had not gone through his bank.
Schmidt said he didn't think the troubles were bad enough to cause Dawes to do something drastic.
Schmidt said Dawes parents were aware that the body may have been their son's. He said the Daweses held a prayer service at their home Tuesday night.
"It was a somber event," he said.