Chattanooga police identify weighted body found in South Chickamauga Creek

Chattanooga police identify weighted body found in South Chickamauga Creek

September 9th, 2011 by Joan Garrett McClane in News

Chattanooga police and fire department officials at a site off Shallowford Road prepare for emergency response crews to send a boat upstream to retrieve a man's body found in South Chickamauga Creek.

Photo by Kate Belz/Times Free Press.

A man found dead in South Chickamauga Creek with weights in his backpack was laid off from McKee Foods in July, said officials of the company that makes Little Debbie snacks.

Two people found Todd Staats' body Aug. 21 while fishing from a canoe. Casting for bream and other fish, they saw the orange on his sneaker soles sticking out of the water.

His name was a mystery until police released it Thursday. Police said the body was unrecognizable because of decomposition. It was dressed in blue jean shorts and a camouflage ball cap with the name of the University of Tennessee of Chattanooga Mocs on the side.

When the body was found, Chattanooga police spokeswoman Sgt. Jerri Weary said investigators would try to get fingerprints and would comb through missing persons' reports, check homeless camps and put out descriptions in the media.

Police still haven't said how Staats, 48, wound up in the water with weights strapped to his body and in a drawstring bag on his back. His death was called suspicious, and police said they're still investigating.

McKee Communications Manager Mike Gloekler said Staat's job was eliminated in a reorganization. When asked for additional information, Gloekler said, "We can't talk about it."

Staats' profile on LinkedIn, a social media site for business networking, shows he worked at McKee for 14 years and for one month as a cable plant architect.

He was a medical service corps officer for the U.S. Army for nine years and four months, the profile said.

He majored in animal science at West Virginia University and then got his master's degree in information systems at the University of Southern California. In 1997, the profile says, he earned another bachelor's degree in information systems from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale.

According to the profile, he wanted to be contacted for career opportunities, job inquiries and business deals.