Sharon's Body Found

by Gwen O'Brien and Margaret Fosmoe

SOUTH BENDWhen University of Notre Dame freshman Maureen McCormick learned of the apparent sad ending to the search for her missing classmate, she headed to the Grotto, on campus, to pray.p. Even though she had never met 18-year-old Chad Sharon, she had prayed for him often since he disappeared Dec. 12. A body, tentatively identified as Sharon’s, was discovered in the St. Joseph River about 3 p.m. Wednesday.p. “I hope he’s happy, wherever he is,” McCormick said as she left the Grotto. “I’m also praying for his parents. I can’t imagine what they are going through. I hope that they find some kind of peace or resolution.”p. Two months to the day since the freshman’s disappearance, an employee of a concrete cutting company, apparently inspecting the Angela Boulevard bridge for potential repairs, noticed the body underneath the structure. According to investigators, the body was lying against one of the bridge’s abutments in about two feet of water on the east side fo the river.p. Tim Corbett, commander of the St. Joseph County/Metro Holicide Unit, said the body was positively identified as Sharon through jewelry, the contents of his wallet, clothing and physical characteristics.p. “He had on a medal and a choker. We have a picture of him wearing the choker that we used for comparison,” Corbett said.p. For investigators, how Sharon ended up in the river remains a mystery.p. “Now that we have recovered the body, we’ll hopefully be able to find out why he was in the river. There’s a lot of circumstances that could lead to him ending up there,” said Rex Rakow, director of the Notre Dame Security Police.p. p. There was no evidence Wednesday that foul play was involved in Sharon’s death, according to Corbett. An autopsy is scheduled for today. Sharon’s dental records will be used for comparison.p. Sharon disappeared int he early morning hours of Dec. 12 after attending an end-of-semester party at a student house in the 500 block of Corby Boulevard.p. Students told police Sharon turned down an offer from friends for a ride back to campus, telling them he planned to walk back later.p. Instead, after leaving the party, Sharon apparently walked west along Corby Boulevard and south on Niles Avenue.p. The last known contact wiht Sharon was a brief conversation he apparently had about 4 a.m. that day with a guard at Madison Center for Children, 701 N. Niles Ave.p. The guard told investigators a young man matching Chad’s description asked him directions to the nearest convenience store.p. The guard told investigators he pointed the young man toward the 7-Eleven store at Niles and LaSalle avenues. The store clerk told investigators no one fitting Sharon’s description visited the store.p. A search and rescue dog may have detected Sharon’s scent near the ramp of the East Race behind the Madison Center on Dec. 19. The body was found a little more than a mile downstream from that location.p. Despite an extensive search in the community and search teams in the river, no signs of the young man were found until Wednesday.p. “A body can be hung up on debris in the river for a long period of time. The high winds (Tuesday) night might have had something to do with breaking it loose and appearing today,” Rakow said.p. Police and Notre Dame officials conductd a news conference Wednesday evening to confirm the body had been identified.p. “I think it’s clear the entire Notre Dame community is really saddened by the news we receivied today about Chad Sharon’s death. All of us convey our profound sympathy to his parents, Steve and Jane Sharon,” said Rev. Edward Malloy, university president.p. Notre Dame students and employees were notified of the news shortly after 6 p.m. in a recorded voice mail from Malloy.p. Steve and Jane Sharon, of Pelican Lake, Wis., will be flown to South Bend by the univerity today to recover the body.p. The Rev. Mark Poorman, vice president for student affairs, contacted the Sharons shortly after police were notified to let them know a body had been found. The priest called the couple again a short time later to break the news that the body had been positively identified.p. Sharon was an excellent student. In high school, he was president of the student council, the National Honor Society and his senior class. In the yearbook, his classmates named him “Most Likely to Succeed.”p. Attending Notre Dame had been his dream. Sharon earned a full academic scholarship to attend the university.p. Their son loved Notre Dame and was enjoying his freshman year, Steve Sharon said during an interview in January. When Chad went home for fall break and his friends asked him how he liked college, he answered “I just love it,” his father said.p. Residents of Fisher Hall, where Chad lived, attended regular Mass on Wednesday night in the same residence hall chapel where Jan. 16 the Sharons and others prayed for Chad’s safe return.p. The Rev. Robert Moss, rector of Fisher Hall, said Wednesday night that the mood was sad at the dorm.p. “We had hoped for better news. But it’s good to know where Chad is and that he’s safe,” said Moss, who spent the evening meeting with and comforting students.p. Moss and others anxiously await the outcome of today’s autopsy.p. “I hope it was an accident and that it was quick and that there was no foul play,” Moss said.p. Clusters of Notre Dame students gathered around television screens int he LaFortune Student Center Wednesday evening, as news broke of the disocvery of the body.p. I saw a lot of people grouping in the vicinity of the television and I followed them," said a senior John Cannon. “The mood was mostly quiet shock. There were about 10 to 15 students gathered around the television. it was kind of solemn.”p. Soek Goh, a checkout clerk at the Huddle and a sophomore, observed the same mood.p. They were watching the television and talking about it near the register. They were all very concerned," Goh said. “It’s just such a tragedy. Even though we knew it might turn out this way, we hoped for the best.”

TopicID: 3496