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Fishermen find human remains near Leavenworth

March 04, 2009
Some Crawford County commercial fishermen made a grisly discovery early Friday afternoon near Leavenworth.

The crew who operates Midwest Caviar Co. in English was fishing for spoonbill (paddlefish) just downstream from the Blue River boat ramp and observed what appeared to be human remains lodged between a large tree limb and a rock on the Indiana side of the Ohio River.

The fishermen, who use flagnets to catch fish between Leavenworth and Cannelton, carry cell phones and notified authorities about the discovery.

"We usually have two crews out on the river," Becky Ward, who works for the company, said. "On Friday morning, we just happened to have a crew fishing in that area. David and Vickie Cox actually own the company, and it was David Cox Jr. who was with the crew that found the remains."

Conservation Officers Terry Allen, Dennis Talley, Mac Spainhour and Kim Wolsiefer, along with Crawford County Coroner Chris Brown and Deputy Coroner Ray Saylor and Sheriff Deputy Debbie Young, responded to the call and found the remains at the waters' edge.

"The river had been falling really fast," Talley said. "That's what brought the remains into view. A leg was pinned between a rock and a tree branch and held the remains in place at the edge of the water. There was actually little flesh left; it was mainly a skeleton. There were zip-up-type boots and what looked to be women's (underwear) on the remains, and there was some jewelry. But it wasn't enough to make an identification at the scene."

The remains were taken to Louisville for an autopsy, and an anthropologist from Frankfort, Ky., was summoned to assist in the identification.

"We were able to identify the person by late Friday afternoon," Allen said. "We entered the information we had — the boots, clothing, jewelry — into a computer program we have and immediately got some possibilities. That was a big help.

"We found that Louisville Metro Police had been working on a missing person case since the middle of December, and was able to tie it together and make a positive identification."

"The remains turned out to be those of a black female," Brown, the Crawford County coroner, said.

"We were able to identify her as Barbara J. Louden. She was 58 years old at the time of death. She lived in the St. Catherine area of Louisville and had been missing since December. The clothing and jewelry helped us, and we were thankful that we were able to identify her as quickly as we did.

"This will give the family some closure," he said. "Sometimes, these can go on for months, or even years, before an identification can be made.

"We're still not sure about the cause of death, although we have some clues, but we should have the final results back from the autopsy in about a month, and we'll know more then."

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