published Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Marion County officials await ID on body found in Sequatchie River

Marion County, Tenn., officials say they believe they know the identity of a man whose body was found floating in the Sequatchie River on Monday.

"We don't know a lot right now," Marion County Sheriff's Office Detective Gene Hargis said Tuesday.

But authorities say they hope an autopsy being performed in Nashville will shed some light on the man's identity and what happened to him.

Hargis said the man's body was found between 9 and 10 a.m. CST Monday by an off-duty sheriff's deputy who was duck hunting on the Sequatchie River.

"He came down the river and saw something and came back and found the body and called it in," Hargis said. The detective didn't identify the off-duty officer.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation "at the request of the office of District Attorney [Mike] Taylor," agency spokeswoman Illana Tate said Tuesday.

The state agency will work closely with Marion County investigators, Tate said.

Investigators said the man's body had been in the water for a long time and was significantly decomposed. The body is thought to have entered the river somewhere upstream and been deposited where it was found by the flowing water.

Now, it's up to medical officials in Nashville to put a name to the body, possibly confirming local law enforcement's suspicions.

"We have an idea of who it may be but we're awaiting positive ID from the medical examiner," Hargis said. He said he wasn't sure how soon that identification would be made.

"The TBI agent went over for the autopsy [Tuesday] morning," he said. "We're hoping to have an ID very soon."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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