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Missing St. Hilaire, Minn., man’s body found

By Stephen J. Lee

Forum News Service

ST. HILAIRE, Minn. -- The body of the St. Hilaire man missing for two weeks was found Wednesday less than a mile from the town, said Pennington County Sheriff Ray Kuznia.

Searchers found Thomas O’Hara, 40, about 1:30 p.m. in a soybean field.

He last was seen about 4 p.m. Aug. 8, walking north along state Highway 32 toward Thief River Falls.

O’Hara had been known to walk away from home before, and his family didn’t report him missing until Aug. 12. After an investigation turned up nothing, Kuznia’s office on Tuesday issued a news release seeking the public’s help.

That made a difference, the sheriff said. “We got several calls.”

The U.S. Border Patrol provided a helicopter, and Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls provided all-terrain vehicles for searchers to use.

“It was actually one our deputies on an ATV and a couple firefighters who found his body,” Kuznia said. “It was right on the outskirts of the field.”

Official identification of the body and cause of death will be determined by an autopsy by the medical examiner in Grand Forks, he said.

But the body found was wearing clothing similar to what O’Hara last was seen wearing, Kuznia said. “Everything matches, so I’m pretty sure.”

There were no obvious signs of anyone else or any weapons at the scene and no obvious cause of death, although it was clear O’Hara had died some time ago, he said.

His deputies also were assisted by firefighters from St. Hilaire and Thief River Falls, and officers of the Minnesota State Patrol and the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

O’Hara had had health problems in the past and a history of walking away, including an incident last October in which he was found unharmed a day after being reported missing, Kuznia said.

“It is a sad ending, but hopefully now the family can put some closure on this,” he said.

Forum News Service

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