Goshen News, Goshen, IN

September 21, 2012

Body found in barrel in St. Joe River

Family of missing man shows up at scene for possible information


ELKHART — Residents of Sunset Lane in Elkhart were witness to a gruesome scene Thursday evening.

A body was found along the south bank of the St. Joseph River, just east of Six Span Bridge, near the intersection of C.R. 17 and Ind. 120. The body was stuffed into a 55-gallon steel drum, according to Capt. Jim Bradberry with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department.

“I’m able to say that the body was found by people clearing debris in the river,” Bradberry said.

While Bradberry was unable to confirm the gender of the body, Elkhart County Commissioner Frank Lucchese said the body was of a man. Lucchese lives on Sunset Lane, and he talked with investigators early in the evening.

Bradberry said that the death seemed suspicious, at least to him, especially because the body was put into a steel barrel.

“It’s alarming to me,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons why we have the lab techs and patrols out here.”

The sheriff’s department received the call about the body around 4:02 p.m., Bradberry said. The investigation carried on into the night, with investigators from the sheriff’s department setting up portable lights to continue to collect evidence into the night. While the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Dive Team had not been called out, Bradberry didn’t rule out the possibility.

“We’re doing everything we can ... We’ve got quite a bit of work to do,” Bradberry said.

While the identity of the body is unknown, one family came out the scene. Friends and family of Mark Miller, a missing 44-year-old Dunlap man, came to the scene Thursday on the chance that the body was possibly his.

Tanya Brodock, Bristol, said that she prayed it was not Miller’s body, but that she was out at the scene to make sure.

“I’m as close of a friend that you can be to him,” Brodock said of Miller.

Miller went missing Sept. 7, according to a flier handed out by the family. It’s a strange circumstance, Brodock said, especially because she was texting him the night before he went missing and nothing seemed out of place. Brodock said Miller owns The Tattoo Shop in Dunlap and does charity work and fundraisers. He was not involved in any bad activities, according to Brodock.

“His family was his heart and soul,” Brodock said.