Press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office:
On Wednesday at approximately 12:39 p.m., the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office received a call related to found human remains in the South Fork of the Eel River, just south of the Humboldt/Mendocino County line in Piercy. The body was first observed by a wildlife photographer around 9 a.m., but the photographer did not recognize it as human remains at first, thinking it might have been a deceased animal.
The photographer later examined the photographs and showed them to a friend where they decided to contact a member of the Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team (SHTRT) about their concern.
The rescue team notified the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and then responded to the location with a swift water team to assist in confirming if there was a human body and if so, to assist in body recovery. The team entered the river with a raft and navigated to a closer vantage point, where it was confirmed to be a human body entangled in branches of a downed tree laying partially in the water of the Eel River.
The rescue team was able to free the body from the tree branches and then navigate back to the shoreline. The body appeared to be that of a white male adult, over 6 feet tall, with a heavy build. The decedent appeared to have been in the water for a week or more and did not have any identification on him.
On Thursday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by a family member of a missing adult male from Santa Rosa.
The family member advised they heard of the story on a local news outlet. This family member indicated her brother had visited her in Eureka and was last seen leaving to go back to his home in Santa Rosa. This was in mid-November and her brother had not been seen or heard from since then. The Santa Rosa Police Department does have an active missing persons investigation on the caller’s brother.
The missing person matches the description of the male who was recovered. The missing person’s vehicle was later located near Confusion Hill, approximately six miles upstream from where the body was located.
The cause of death is not yet known and an autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday. No further information will be released about the recovered body or the missing person’s identify until the remains are positively identified.