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Body found in Kanawha River across from Capitol

By Lydia Nuzum, Staff writer
CHRIS DORST | Gazette
Charleston Police and other emergency responders remove an unidentified body from the Kanawha River across from the Capitol Complex. The body was found by a 13-year-old boy on Sunday afternoon.

A 13-year-old boy found a dead body on the banks of the Kanawha River, near the University of Charleston on Sunday afternoon.

Lt. Steve Cooper, chief of detectives for the Charleston Police Department, said the body was found around 4 p.m. Sunday. It was found near the 2600 block of Kanawha Avenue, across the river from the Capitol Complex. The victim was later identified as Richard Hansen, 47, of Charleston. An autopsy will be performed Monday.

“It’s going to take further examination from the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause of death,” Cooper said. “Any time we find an unattended body we create a crime scene and treat any and all evidence with care until we get to the bottom of the cause and manner of the victim’s death.”

Nicholas Harris, 13, was swimming in a nearby pool on Sunday. Harris said he was chasing his dog along the riverbank when he discovered the body.

“I was surprised. Who wouldn’t be? It was my first encounter with a dead body in the river,” Harris said. “I found it, and I ran up to my parents and my neighbors at the same time — they were having a conversation. I told them what happened, and they didn’t believe me...They saw it, and they called the police.”

Although police did not identify the victim in any way, the body appeared to be an older male. The investigation is ongoing.

“It makes me not want to go near the river anymore,” Harris said.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com, 304-348-5189 or follow @lydianuzum on Twitter.


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