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Boys find body in creek near Rainier

Two young boys who were on their way to a swimming hole discovered the decomposed body of an unidentified man in Goble Creek north of St. Helens Saturday afternoon.

Authorities transported the body to the Oregon Medical Examiner's office in Sunnyside for an autopsy to determine cause of death, and hopefully, identify the deceased man, who appears to be in his 20s or 30s, according to Columbia County Undersheriff Gerry Simmons.

Foul play is not considered a factor in the death at this time, according to Simmons, who said there was no evidence of trauma to the body, which authorities believe washed down the creek about a half mile from the intersection of Bishop and Nicolai roads about 5 miles south of Rainier. There were no abandoned vehicles or any other evidence in the area that would point to how the deceased might have arrived in the area.

Simmons said investigators have an idea who the victim may be and are using dental X-rays to confirm or rule out that hypothesis.

'We're going to see if we can identify with a known missing person,' Simmons said, adding that the condition of the body was consistent with a death that had taken place a month ago.

Simmons and three other deputies and members of the Columbia River Fire and Rescue's high-angle rope unit used blocks and tackle to hoist the body up a 30-foot embankment so it could be transported by ATVs and then by ambulance to the medical examiner.

The names of the two boys who found the body were not released because 'they were fairly traumatized,' Simmons said, adding, 'We're working on getting them help.'

Early speculation was that the body might be that of 77-year-old Sterling Blades of Multnomah County, who disappeared Dec. 17 after visiting a friend in Warren, and who has not been seen since.

'It's not Mr. Blades, I can tell you that,' Simmons said.