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Body Pulled from River Identified

Updated: Tuesday, November 5 2013, 10:24 PM EST
INDEPENDENCE, Ky. (Angenette Levy) -- The body pulled from a pick-up truck in the Ohio River over the weekend is an Independence man who's been missing for nearly two years, the Hamilton Co. Coroner said Monday evening.

Mark Smith was last seen on February 16, 2012.  His sister, Mechelle Wallace, said she and her brother texted daily but his messages stopped after that date. She and her family have been trying to figure out what happened to him ever since.

Wallace received a call from Independence Police Saturday.

"It was like somebody slammed a door in my face. I just couldn't breathe when he called me and told me that they had found him," Wallace said.

Independence Police say Det. Jim Moore used Smith's cell phone records to isolate the area where his phone last "pinged." It was in California, Ohio off Eldorado Ave.  Independence Police Capt. Tony Lucas said witnesses had seen Smith in that area in February 2012. Smith was supposed to help a friend move to that area on February 16, 2012.

Sometime after Labor Day, Det. Moore asked the Boone-Kenton Water Rescue team to use sonar to search a particular area of the river. An area of interest was found and Saturday the team used a new piece of equipment that picked up the image of Smith's truck. Several other vehicles were also found in that part of the river.
"Our brother wouldn't just run off and leave us because we were so close," Wallace said. She added, "I was hopeful that he would be alive. I was just in my mind thinking he'd be off in Florida somewhere or praying that he just ran off just enjoying his life."

Mark Smith was a construction worker and an avid hunter. He had several siblings, a son and two grandchildren.

While his family is glad to have some answers in his disappearance their search for answers has not ended.
"Whoever put him there or whoever had anything to do with putting him there, I hope they find out because it's not been fair to us or to him to have to stay in that water for the past two years."

Hamilton Co. Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco said Monday night her office used dental records to positively identify Mark Smith's remains.

It's not clear whether his death was an accident, suicide or homicide.

More tests will need to be conducted on his remains before that's determined but Dr. Sammarco said that could be difficult because Smith's body had been in the river for so long.

Watch video HEREBody Pulled from River Identified

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