UPDATE: Body found in TN River identified as missing soldier
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- The family of Spec. Bradley Rogers has asked for "privacy to find peace and comfort" after confirming that the body found in the Tennessee River in Marion County is that off the Ooltewah soldier who disappeared February 3.
"We're devastated," Rogers' cousin Sheila Bales tells Channel 3 off camera Monday. "We still don't have a lot of answers."
The body was sent to the TBI Medical Examiner in Nashville for autopsy. Preliminary findings show no signs of foul play, according to a news release from the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
Two fisherman discovered the body Saturday, one day shy of three weeks after Rogers disappeared.
"Half of the upper torso was above water, so they just ran up on it," Marion County Sheriff Ronnie Burnett says.
"The body had been in the water for a pretty good amount of time."
Officially, investigators have yet to answer why.
"The water's cold, it's up high," says Matthew Scott, an angler from Red Bank whom investigators kept clear of the stretch of river once the body was discovered.
"There's no reason for swimming in it," Scott says.
Search team leader Kim Klauck tells Channel 3 that the discovery is nowhere close to where Hamilton County detectives directed volunteers to look only hours earlier.
"I can't disclose one of the sites, because it still could be relevant to the investigation," Klauck says.
But the second site is the area surrounding the Electric Cowboy, the Brainerd nightclub where Rogers was last seen.
"It so happened on the night he was there, the cameras didn't work," the soldier's mother, Jennifer Rogers, told Channel 3 last Wednesday.
"We have no video of him."
Rogers reportedly had taken a taxi to the club from his father's home in Ooltewah.
"He'd never been there before," Bales says. "And so many of his friends from high school had moved away, or were in school, that he probably wouldn't have known anybody there either."
Rogers' credit card list charges for several drinks there, but hasn't been used since.
He was on leave after seeing infantry service in Afghanistan, and a posting in Germany. He was due to report to Fort Hood, Texas for reassignment Valentine's Day. The Army listed him as AWOL (absent without leave) when he failed to show, according to Bales.
"He didn't have a beef with anybody, and nobody, far as I know, had a beef with him," she says. "He was looking forward (to Fort Hood) and saw the Army as a career."
Rogers' mother posted flyers in the Electric Cowboy's parking lot, and elsewhere in the days following his disappearance. She has maintained he would have no reason to shirk his military responsibilities, or to cause his family worry.
"No, not Bradley," she told Channel 3 last Wednesday. "He would never. He would never. Not my son."
As of Monday evening, it was not clear when Spec. Rogers' family would be able to lay him to rest.
Investigators have not said when the Medical Examiner will complete the autopsy, according to Janice Atkinson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.
Thursday, May 23 2013 6:29 PM EDT2013-05-23 22:29:09 GMT
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