ROBINSON TOWNSHIP, Pa. - The body of a missing Duquesne University graduate student was found Monday morning in the Ohio River in Robinson Township, police said.
Dakota James, 23, had last been seen Jan. 25 in downtown Pittsburgh. Surveillance video showed him walking in Katz Plaza that night.
Authorities were called Monday, more than a month later, to the Ohio River in the area of Royal Avenue after a woman reported that she spotted something. Crews recovered James’ body from the water.
The circumstances surrounding James’ disappearance and death remain unclear. Authorities said there were no obvious signs of trauma on James’ body. The medical examiner will conduct tests to determine the cause and manner of death.
“At this point, this is an ongoing investigation, and the medical examiner has to examine the body,” Assistant Pittsburgh Police Chief Lavonnie Bickerstaff said when asked about foul play.
“Dakota did not do this to himself. He does not do drugs. He does not smoke. He works full-time and he attends grad school full-time. He's a runner, biker and swimmer. He drinks alcohol, but by no means was wasted like people think to of walked into the river.”
Duquesne University President Ken Gormley released the following statement:
“Dakota and his family have been in our prayers throughout this difficult ordeal. I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic outcome, and I extend my deepest sympathy to Dakota's family and friends on behalf of the entire Duquesne University community.”
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- VIDEO: Body found in Ohio River in Robinson Township
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Police said that in the time since James’ disappearance there was no activity with his cellphone, which went to voicemail, or his bank account.
Leading up to Monday, search efforts for James spanned Allegheny and Beaver counties.
“It's heartbreaking and heart-wrenching for everybody. Everybody's hearts are shattered,” said Michelle Bender, who helped organize some of the searches.
In Pittsburgh, divers searched all three rivers, including the shorelines near the Seventh Street Bridge, and police said they also searched landfills and homeless camps.
Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto released the following statement on Monday:
“My heart goes out to the family of Mr. James and the entire Duquesne University community. I cannot begin to imagine what it is like to lose a young loved one like Dakota.“While this is not the outcome we had hoped for, I want to thank the tireless work of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and other law enforcement agencies, to follow every lead and every piece of evidence in their attempts to find him.”
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