Around 1 p.m. on a cold, gray Oct. 10, volunteer searcher Merry Thies snapped her cell phone shut and relayed the news to Dessalines Similhomme: “They found a body in the river.”
Similhomme, 58, nearly collapsed, and his friends half-carried him to his car, witnesses recall. Sitting in the passenger seat, he sobbed deeply. One hour later, Similhomme paced down the bank of the Cedar River and peered through mangled tree limbs. He let out a piercing scream as he spotted a bloated, faceless dead man floating in a shallow section of the river.