UPDATED: Authorities pull female body from the river near Monterey Dam

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Gazette staff
Friday, May 9, 2014

JANESVILLE—Authorities pulled a female body from the Rock River near the Monterey Dam at about 6 p.m. Friday.

Sgt. Mark Ratzlaff said a city of Janesville firefighter waded into the water and retrieved a body. The body has not been identified.

“At this time, we don't know who (it is),” Ratzlaff said.

The body is that of a female age 60 or older.

Authorities have been searching for 75-year-old Mary Coulthard, 208 N. Main St., since May 3. She was last seen the evening of May 2.

"At this time, nobody has said anything to indicate it's her," Ratzlaff said.

Coulthard's family has been contacted and told a body was found, but that does not mean it is Coulthard, he said.

Earlier this week, police found personal property of Coulthard's on the Milwaukee Street bridge as well as south of the bridge on land near the Rock River. That prompted ground, water and aerial searches of the river, police said.

Based on the location of the property, police believe Coulthard traveled along the river at some point, police said.

Police Chief David Moore said he didn't know how long it might take to make an identification. After the body is identified, the family will be notified and only then would the identity be made public.

An autopsy has not yet been scheduled, but it will eventually take place in Madison, Ratzlaff said.

Various characteristics such as facial features, scars, tattoos and dental records, are used to identify bodies.

Before the body was recovered, a half dozen Janesville police officers blocked the bicycle trail near Monterey Dam and closed the sidewalk on the nearby Center Avenue bridge.

A Gazette photographer on the scene said a firefighter retrieved the body along the south bank of the river midway between the Center Avenue bridge and the first railroad trestle downstream.

The body was caught on debris under the water's surface, Ratzlaff said.

Police said there were no signs of obvious trauma or foul play, "but obviously nothing will be for sure until we're able to conduct an autopsy," Ratzlaff said.

A call was received at the Rock County 911 Communications Center at 4:41 p.m.

A 15-year-old boy rode his bike to It's a Keeper Bait & Tackle, 815 S. Washington St.

Bait shop owner Shawn McCarten said the boy “seemed a little flustered and confused.” McCarten's wife, Marci McCarten, said the boy's face was “just sheet white.”

A customer in the bait shop, Joe Villa, said the boy approached him and said he needed to talk to someone.

“He said, 'I was on the other side of the river, I looked down and saw something. I think it's a body,'” Villa said the boy told him.

The boy was fishing on the south bank when he found the body.

“'I saw shoes and pants, and I think there's something in those pants,'” Villa said the boy told him.

After police arrived, Shawn McCarten, the boy and a police officer walked down to the river and saw what appeared to be a body, McCarten said.

McCarten described the body as small-framed.

“I saw blue jeans, maybe, white tennis shoes and a partial torso,” McCarten said.

When she was last seen, Coulthard was wearing blue jeans, white tennis shoes and possibly a tan winter jacket. She is about 5 feet, 2 inches tall and 100 pounds. Coulthard has gray hair and hazel eyes.

Police earlier said they didn't believe Coulthard's case was related to that of Clayton Courtney, who was charged Tuesday with stabbing his roommate Sunday and is suspected of killing a female friend the same day.

"There is nothing at this point that would indicate that" the female body found is connected to Courtney, Ratzlaff said. "We won't know for sure until the autopsy."

Last updated: 5:26 pm Friday, May 9, 2014

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