Missing homeless man found dead in Rock River

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staff, Gazette
Tuesday, April 23, 2013

— A body pulled from the Rock River on Sunday evening was that of a homeless man missing since December, authorities said Monday.

Ryhene Jamel Thomas, 25, was last seen Dec. 22 at a gas station in Janesville.

A man walking along the river near the 2000 block of Pow Wow Trail in the town of Beloit spotted Thomas floating face up in the river just before 6 p.m. Sunday, according to a news release.

Thomas likely died in December and was submerged in the Rock River for most of the time since then, Rock County Coroner Jenifer Keach said.

An autopsy Monday showed Thomas died from drowning, Keach said.

Thomas had stayed at the GIFTS homeless shelter in Janesville and was living at another shelter in Madison before he went missing, according to Janesville police.

There were no obvious signs of foul play in Thomas’ death, town of Beloit police Sgt. Laura Palmer said.

Although an investigation is ongoing, Keach said she has not heard anything to suggest the death was not accidental.

Thomas’ body likely stayed under water for so long because it hit snags under the surface and the cold water kept it from coming to the surface, Keach said.

“In cold water (a body) will stay down until the water temperature starts to warm up in the spring,” she said.

Last updated: 10:23 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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