December 8, 2023

The hunt for a wanted suspect ended with his body being found in a West Virginia river, Ohio officials say.

A few days after the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office in Ohio alerted the public about its search for the missing suspect, it received word of a dead man found Sept. 13 in West Virginia, the sheriff’s office said in a Sept. 16 news release. The body had been “pulled up river by a barge,” according to the release.

Two days later, the sheriff’s office said in a news release that the body was identified as 34-year-old Christopher Cowdery, the suspect deputies were searching for.

The sheriff’s office originally posted a news release to Facebook Sept. 10 to inform the public that law enforcement was attempting to find Cowdery, who was identified originally as a “person of interest in an active Felonious Assault investigation.”

On Sept. 12, Meigs County law enforcement posted another update on Cowdery to Facebook, saying he was accused of first-degree attempted murder, second-degree felonious assault and second-degree strangulation and that arrest warrants and search warrants were filed for him.

In tandem with the U.S. Marshals Service, the sheriff’s office said it had searched “numerous residences as well as outside locations.”

“Finding Chris is our #1 priority,” Meigs County Sheriff Scott Fitch said in the Sept. 12 release. “If anyone is found to be harboring or aiding Chris in evading arrest then they will be criminally charged to the fullest extent of the law. Chris, if you see this Facebook post, we know you are well aware that you are wanted. I strongly suggest that you stop hiding and turn yourself in immediately.”

When the originally unidentified body was found in a river in Marshall County, West Virginia, the sheriff’s office said it was “still actively seeking” Cowdery. Marshall County is in the northern tip of the state, about 120 miles from Meigs County.

The body was initially looked over by Marshall County officials but was then sent to the West Virginia Chief Medical Examiner’s Office, the sheriff’s office said. West Virginia authorities provided “DNA, fingerprints and dental records for comparison,” the Sept. 18 release says, which later resulted in a “positive identification” of Cowdery.

After an autopsy was performed, the medical examiner’s office listed the cause of death as drowning, the sheriff’s office said, and there weren’t any injuries that could indicate foul play.

“This has been a horrific event that has highly affected our community and we are sending thoughts and prayers to all involved,” Fitch said in the release.

Meigs County is about 170 miles east of Cincinnati.

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