ELKHART — Officials have identified the body recovered from the St. Joseph River Thursday afternoon as that of Mark Allen Miller, 44, of Dunlap. They have ruled his death a homicide.
The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call around 4 p.m. at the St. Joseph River, near C.R. 17 and S.R. 120. The body was found inside a barrel near Six Span Bridge.
Ron Holaway, owner of Ron’s Pier Service, confirmed three of his employees were removing logs from the river when they saw the barrel, which had a label reading “chemicals.” Captain Jim Bradberry, public information officer for the sheriff’s department, said the barrel was found about 10 feet from the south bank of the river, west of the Six Span Bridge.
Investigators confirmed it was Miller’s body from several tattoos on the body, said Elkhart County Coroner John White. However, investigators will compare the body with Miller’s fingerprints and dental records.
Miller was reported missing Sept. 7, when family last saw him at his tattoo shop in Dunlap. His family has said they had confirmed the identity of the body.
Charles Parker, Miller’s brother, said he was able to confirm Thursday night that it was his brother’s body that was found.
In an initial press release about Miller’s disappearance, the sheriff’s department stated there was no indication of foul play. However, Parker said his family had suspected something was wrong when they found his cell phone, money, watch and bracelet.
“He’d sleep by his phone, so if it rang in the middle of the night he’d wake up and talk to whoever called because that’s just the way he was,” he said.
Miller had a criminal history involving possession of narcotics and battery from 1991 to 2011 However, he had been in touch with his family and friends the last year, and had kept himself clean, Parker said.
“He’s done everything he could to try to be the most respectful person that he could be,” he said.
He organized two benefits for Church Community Services and he was involved in several benefits for individuals who needed financial help, Parker said.
“He cared about his friends very much and he cared about his family very much.”