Police say body in river was Owen Klinger
A body pulled from the Willamette River on Sunday was positively identified Tuesday as Owen Klinger, the 18-year-old University of Portland student who went missing Oct. 6.
Portland police said Oct. 22 that the state medical examiner had identified Klinger after an autopsy.
On Sunday, Oct. 20, Multnomah County river patrol deputies recovered a body just before 1 p.m. near the 9400 block of Northwest St. Helens Road in St. Johns.
Klinger's parents confirmed Monday that they believe it is their son and released a statement to media. "Portland police have notified us that they have recovered a body that we believe is our son, Owen Klinger," Mary and Dustin Klinger said. "We deeply appreciate the extraordinary effort and support that thousands of people have provided over the past two weeks. We now ask for privacy as we move forward with our healing process."
The university where Klinger just started his freshman year also spoke out about the discovery late Monday evening. "Based upon conversations with family representatives and law enforcement, the University joins the Klinger family in their belief that Owen, their son and our community member, has died," an official statement from the University of Portland said. "May we all pray for Owen's eternal rest, for consolation for his family and friends, and for abiding hope within our University community."
Klinger was reported missing after he left his college dorm on foot Sunday, Oct. 6. Police said they suspected Klinger may have tried to hop freight trains and "live off the grid."
"Investigators believe Owen had been watching videos about hopping freight trains," Portland Police Bureau said Wednesday, Oct. 21. "The direction he was walking was an area where freight trains are commonly staged. He had also watched the movie 'Into the Wild' in which a young man leaves to go to Alaska to 'go live off the grid.'"
Family members weren't convinced, and continued their own search efforts.
Susan Lennertz, a longtime family friend of the Klingers who helped coordinate independent search efforts, said last week's update from police didn't provide any solace.
Lennertz said the notion that Klinger left of his own accord to hop trains and live outside society is "one of many possible scenarios."
"Owen watching a movie isn't evidence that he's off the grid," she said last week, calling the case "a terrible nightmare for the family and no relief in sight."
Shortly after Klinger was reported missing, family and police noted he used an ATM on campus, withdrew money, got some food and left on foot.
Police clarified that they continued to investigate his disappearance and search for him.
A GoFundMe page set up to help aid the family's search efforts brought in more than $27,000.
A citywide search was launched and his family said they never gave up hope in looking for Klinger.
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