Sheriff: Michigan man found in Mo. died of self-inflicted wound

Friday, June 28, 2013

VAN BUREN, Mo. -- The investigation into the death of a Michigan man whose remains were found earlier this week in Carter County remains active, but officials report he died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Carter County Sheriff Rick Stephens said he is awaiting the final report from Dr. Russell Deidiker, who performed an autopsy Tuesday at Mineral Area Regional Medical Center in Farmington, Mo.

Dental records were used to positively identify the remains, which had been found two days earlier in the Mark Twain National Forest, as Frederick Daniel Byrne of Big Rapids, Mich.

Although he has not received the report, "the coroner has advised me verbally that [Byrne] died of a gunshot wound to the head, and it appears to be self-inflicted," Stephens said.

The investigation into Byrne's death will remain "actively under investigation until we get that" report, Stephens said.

The 49-year-old man's Chevrolet Malibu was found outside the Mark Twain National Forest near Van Buren in February.

Byrne, according to earlier reports, was last seen Feb. 12 when he dropped his son at Hope College in Holland, Mich., and visited his mother. Officials at that time said Byrne mentioned plans to stop at a mall to buy a Valentine's Day gift for his wife before returning home.

Byrne's car was found two days later by a postal worker on a service road about 560 miles away from where he was last seen. His wallet and keys reportedly were in the car.

Byrne's body was found Sunday near where his car was found when between 15 and 20 canine teams with the Missouri Region C Technical Rescue Team participated in training in Carter County.

"The vehicle was around two-tenths of a mile from where the remains were; [the car was parked] on the road, and he was back in the woods quite a ways," Stephens said. " ... It sounds like he was relatively close, but when you're dealing with the actual forest, if you've been out there, you understand a short distance isn't so short."

At the time of Bryne's disappearance, Stephens said, authorities used every resource possible in their search.

"We had a helicopter out [and] search teams; we had teams on foot and ATV and motorized vehicles. We had dog teams out," Stephens said.

In the ensuing weeks and months, "we continued [to search] the whole time," Stephens said. "In my experience, whether working out west or here, attempting to locate people in densely, heavily wooded areas is difficult."

Stephens said he feels like all the emergency workers, "throughout the whole duration, starting from the citizen who called [the vehicle] in, worked extremely hard and did everything humanly possible to locate him back in February and continually."

Pertinent address:

Van Buren, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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