Twenty-five miles downriver and nine hours after it was first spotted floating in the Mississippi River early Tuesday morning, the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office recovered the body of a 6-foot-1-inch man. Now authorities are trying to find out who he was and how he died.
Someone first spotted the body about 1:30 a.m. on the west bank of the river, near river mile marker 63 and the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery, according to Cmdr. Eric Becnel. The Sheriff’s Office used a Plaquemines Port Harbor and Terminal District vessel to search for the body, but debris in the river and darkness ended the search about 4:30 a.m.
A river pilot spotted the body again near mile 46. At 10:20 a.m., police were able to tie ropes around the corpse and bring it up near mile 38.
Given its advanced stage of decomposition, several people on the boat fell ill when the body was finally brought aboard.
The man’s age and race are uncertain given the body’s poor condition, though Coroner’s Office Chief Investigator John Marie said he believes the man was white.
The discovery of a body so far down the river is “very unusual,” Marie said. It’s his first such case in three years with the Coroner’s Office, he said.
Officials found the body of another man near Port Sulphur on Saturday, but it was quickly identified as that of River Ridge man Gary Folks, who had disappeared in a boating accident that morning near Rattlesnake Bayou.
The body found Tuesday was clad in a dark, ripped T-shirt and blue jeans. No identification was found on the corpse, but fingerprinting and dental records may provide some clues. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
Anyone with information about who the dead man may be is asked to call Plaquemines Detective Sgt. Sidney Smith at (504) 564-2525.