Missing University of Idaho student found dead under bridge

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by KTVB.COM and Associated Press

NWCN.com

Posted on January 21, 2013 at 9:14 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 23 at 7:43 AM

MOSCOW, Idaho -- A University of Idaho student who went missing after leaving a fraternity party Saturday night was found dead Monday afternoon under a bridge five miles from campus.

Moscow Police say the body of 18-year-old Joseph Wiederrick was found by trackers with the Latah County Search and Rescue Team under the Paradise Creek bridge.

Latah County Coroner Cathy Mabbutt said Joseph Wiederrick most likely died of hypothermia, and  that no foul play is suspected in his death. However, Mabbut did say alcohol is thought to be a factor.

An autopsy on Wiederrick's body is expected to be completed Wednesday.

POLICE DETAIL SEARCH FOR TEEN

Moscow Police Chief David Duke said his department began looking for the 18-year-old Sunday afternoon after his college roommate reported him missing.

Wiederrick was last seen Saturday night at a party at the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house.

Rescue crews searched for Wiederrick from Sunday afternoon until Monday afternoon, according to Duke. That's when crews found the young man's frozen body underneath a bridge around 4 p.m.

Duke says while the cause of Wiederrick's death is still under investigation, they do believe hypothermia played a role.

A DEADLY JOURNEY

Authorities believe Wiederrick left the fraternity party and walked about five miles in the opposite direction of his dorm, apparently knocking on the doors of random homes.

Police say the young man first made his way inside a home in Moscow, where he talked to a woman who said he seemed "OK," and said she and the young man talked about him walking home.

Wiederrick's journey then took him to North Mountain View Road in Moscow. That's where he knocked on the door of another home. Police say the homeowner there answered the door, but was frightened for her safety, so she told Wiederrick to go to the home across the street.

Chief Duke says police believe no one answered the door at that home, so Wiederrick kept walking.

That's when Duke says the teen likely fell down an embankment into a nearby creek. Duke says Wiederrick was injured from the fall, and took shelter underneath the bridge where he was later found dead.

CHARGES PENDING

Duke suspects Wiederrick had been drinking at the fraternity party. He says officers are still investigating who supplied alcohol to the teen, and whether charges will be filed in the case.

Wiederrick is originally from Hailey, and is reportedly not a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, but was visiting a friend who was pledging. Police estimate there were about 120 people at the party he attended.

Chief Duke says officers notified Wiederrick's parents of his death on Monday. We're told they are still in Moscow.

The University of Idaho released this statement Tuesday regarding the student's death:

"We are saddened by the loss of Joseph Wiederrick, a freshman at the University of Idaho. He was reported missing on Sunday, Jan. 20. Moscow Police began searching for Wiederrick in the Moscow area. His body was found north of Moscow on Monday, Jan. 21. Our heartfelt sympathy go out to his family and friends. Counseling services are being provided through University Counseling Services to those affected by the loss."

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