The body of a man found floating near the shore in the Mississippi River in rural Monroe County has been identified.
An Illinois State Police crime scene unit responded to assist the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department after a body was discovered along the shore of the Mississippi River west of Maeystown on Friday morning.
Shortly before 9:45 a.m., a fisherman in a boat on the river contacted the sheriff’s department to report what appeared to be a body floating in the area of Levee Road just north of Mitchie Road.
Deputies arrived in the area and with technology, were able to pinpoint the area of where the fisherman was at to assist in locating the body. The Columbia Fire Department assisted by utilizing its drone to search by air and its rescue boat to search by water.
With assistance from local citizens, deputies were able to make it to the river by using UTVs due to the water level being low.
A representative from the Monroe County coroner’s office was dispatched to the scene.
Monroe County Coroner Bob Hill told the Republic-Times late Friday afternoon that the body was found floating in approximately three feet of water near the bank of the Mississippi River.
“The deceased is that of a white male approximately between the ages of 30 and 40 and he is unidentified at this time,” Hill said late Friday.
On Monday, Hill identified the deceased as Caleb M. Moriarity, 36, who was homeless but formerly from Indiana.
“Positive identification was made using tattoos from a Facebook page and an acquaintance that observed Moriarity attempting to cross the Mississippi River from the area of Broadway Street in St. Louis City,” Hill said, adding that official cause and manner of death are pending further investigation by his office.
MCSD Sgt. Justin Biggs said investigators worked throughout the weekend to identify the deceased male along with determining cause of death and the manners surrounding how he may have died. Biggs said that while toxicology results are still pending, it is believed Moriarity died due to drowning.
The investigation revealed the following timeline up to Moriarity’s time of death.
Moriarity had been living in St. Louis City, Biggs said. On Sept. 28 at about 5 p.m., officers with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department were dispatched to a “call for help” at Bellerive Park, located at South Broadway and Elmwood in St. Louis. The call was in regard to a witness observing two males in the Mississippi River who appeared to be in distress. The witness saw one of the males, who was floating on an innertube, go underwater near a barge and never resurface. The second male was able to make it back to shore to speak with officers.
The second male was interviewed by St. Louis police and informed the officers that he and his friend attempted to swim across the river to Illinois. However, during the attempt, the river’s current took them in different directions. The male individual who went underwater near a barge did not resurface.
The St. Louis City Fire Department searched the river for an extended period of time, Biggs said, but was unable to locate that male individual, who has been identified as Moriarity.
“This is an unfortunate event which has taken the life of Mr. Moriarity,” Biggs said. “The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department sends our condolences to the Moriarity family. The sheriff’s department would also like to thank the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Unit, the Monroe County Coroner’s Office, Columbia Fire Department, and District 1 Bureau Detectives with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for their assistance in the recovery and assisting in the investigation. Also thank you to the two citizens who provided their UTVs to assist in transporting first responders back and forth to the river during the recovery.”