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Missing man's body found in Willamette River

by: COURTESY OF THE CHASE FAMILY - Adrien Chase's body was discovered Sunday, Jan. 5, in the Willamette River, a month after he disappeared in Oregon City.One month to the day since he went missing, the body of Adrien Chase was discovered Sunday in the Willamette River near Atkinson Park.

Authorities believe he had been dead at least two weeks.

The 35-year-old Oregon City man left his home on Harrison Street the evening of Dec. 5, perhaps to take one of his regular walks in the nearby park, according to his former roommate, Elyse Gerlich. He had celebrated his 35th birthday earlier that day.

Chase, who suffered from bipolar disorder, reportedly left his medications at home in his backpack when he went out.

Family and friends — as well as Oregon City Police officers — searched the park for Chase several times in early and mid-December but came up empty.

Police called Chase’s mother, Joellen Kuhl of New York, on Jan. 5 to tell her “a body had been found in the Willamette” and that “they were pretty sure it was Adrien,” she said, adding that fingerprint tests on the body the next day confirmed it was Chase.

Kari Bittner, a family friend from Rochester, N.Y., said she was “heartbroken” that the man she babysat as a child was gone.

“We had such a strong feeling that he had an accident while on one of his late-night walks in that park, and may have fallen into (Abernethy) Creek,” which empties into the Willamette River, Bittner said.

Kuhl thanked those who aided in the search for her son.

“I am grateful for the help of all the people involved in distributing posters and sharing Adrien’s ‘missing person’ page (on social media),” she said. “It is so wonderful for me to know that Adrien was so cared for.”




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