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Archive for Saturday, August 21, 1999

INVESTIGATORS RECOVER BODY FROM KANSAS RIVER

August 21, 1999

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Investigators looking into the death of a man found Friday morning in the water behind city hall weren't pointing to foul play.

Using ropes and a metal body basket, law enforcement officials dipped into the Kansas River on Friday to recover a male corpse from the intake grates at Bowersock Mills & Power Co. just behind city hall.

Curious onlookers huddled on the Kansas River Bridge as dozens of police and emergency workers scurried taking photographs and notes in case a homicide investigation later unfolded.

Early evidence did not suggest foul play, said Lt. Don Crowe of the Douglas County sheriff's department.

"There's no indication of anything right now," Crowe said mid-morning Friday. "But with all unattended deaths, we have to work it as a homicide until we know otherwise."

Bowersock employees called 911 about 9:20 a.m. Friday after they noticed a white man, estimated by sheriff's officers to be in his early 20s, wearing what appeared to be a striped T-shirt and cutoff shorts, floating in the pooled water. It was unknown Friday whether the man's body had drifted down the river or whether it entered the water where it was found.

Members of the Douglas County Underwater Search and Recovery team were at the scene, but Crowe said investigators decided a dive there was dangerous.

"There are too many unknowns and a lot of debris," Crowe said.

Crowe said the man appeared to have been in the water for perhaps a couple of days. But Crowe and Douglas County Coroner Dr. Erik Mitchell said that was an estimate.

Investigators called in Mitchell from Topeka.

The scene turned into a classroom for the police department's newest recruits, who watched veteran officers at the recovery scene. The recruits also will attend the man's autopsy, Sgt. George Wheeler said later.

The victim is not a Lawrence resident, Crowe said. But he declined to identify the man pending notification of kin.

Police are expected to issue a statement with additional information about the case at noon today.

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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