MOUNT VERNON – The body found in the Kokosing River on Sunday has been identified as the Mount Gilead man who went missing in the area one week prior.
The Mount Vernon Police Department received notice from the Knox County Coroner's Office on Wednesday that the body found was that of Jason Wayne Taylor, 40, of Mount Gilead, according to a MVPD press release.
Taylor was reported missing May 24 after abandoning his vehicle in the Kokosing Gap Trail parking lot on Mount Vernon Avenue. Four local law enforcement agencies – including aerial and K-9 units – combined efforts that day in an attempt to track Taylor down, but to no avail.
Officers conducted another search of the area on May 29, with similar results. Finally, on Sunday afternoon, dispatchers received a call "in reference to a body in the water," Police Chief Robert Morgan said.
Officers were called to the area of the Kokosing River behind Ariel Arena, located at 800 Martinsburg Rd. in Mount Vernon.
Upon arrival, law enforcement officials received information from two kayakers who reportedly observed the individual in the water along the west side of the river, caught in a downed tree. Firefighters were able to locate the body of a deceased male and pull him from the river.
The body was transported to the Licking County Coroner's Office that day for an autopsy.
The Knox County Coroner’s Office was able to compare personal information provided Taylor's family and other sources to provide a positive identity. Taylor's family has been notified, Morgan said.
"No cause of death has been given at this time and is pending the results of the full autopsy," Morgan stated Wednesday. "The results of the full autopsy may take several more weeks. The investigation remains open."