Body Found Near Tempe Marketplace Identified as ASU Freshman Jack Culolias

The medical examiner has identified the body found in the river north of Tempe Marketplace on Sunday as ASU freshman Jack Culolias.

Tempe police expected the body to be identified as Culolias, who was last seen around the time he got kicked out of the Cadillac Ranch restaurant/bar the night of November 30.

See also:
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The only physical clue of Culolias' whereabouts was a single red shoe, which was found by Culolias' mother north of the shopping center a few days after he was last seen. Tempe police said the body had a single red shoe on one of the feet when it was discovered.

Investigators searched that same general area for several days, but completed their search on December 7.

A Maricopa County Sheriff's Office helicopter was brought in, as were K-9 units specifically trained to find humans, a robot with sonar that could find objects underwater, and investigators on the ground, but they didn't find any physical clues.

Although it seems strange that the body would be found after what seemed to be a very thorough search, there is a likely answer, albeit a morbid one.

In a very similar situation a couple years back, a Tempe cop explained to us that a body will oftentimes sink to the bottom of a body of water, and remain there until an amount of gases form inside the body, eventually pushing the body to the surface, where it will remain.

Some forensics literature related to human bodies in water confirms this, and the water temperature also appears to be a factor in the time it takes for a body to surface.

Volunteers searching for Culolias were the ones who spotted the body on Sunday, and phoned it in to police.

Culolias was kicked out of Cadillac Ranch in Tempe Marketplace -- where he used a fake ID to get in -- around 11 p.m. on November 30, during an event with the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, in which Culolias is a pledge.

Culolias' mother, a California resident, ended up filing the missing-person report with ASU police two days later, and came out to Tempe to search for her son shortly after that -- when she found one of her son's red shoes.

Police haven't publicly speculated about what may have happened to Culolias, and a cause of death hasn't been identified as of yet.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley