Dakota James, missing Pittsburgh grad student, found in Ohio River

A sad end to a six week long search

A search for a missing Pittsburgh grad student has ended in tragedy, with his body discovered in the Ohio River on Monday morning.

Dakota James, a 23-year-old graduate student at Duquesne University, was last seen on January 25 in Pittsburgh’s cultural district. He had gone out for happy hour drinks with co-workers followed by dinner with a friend, who took an Uber car home. He was last spotted at a public transit station.

READ also: Where is Dakota James? Pittsburgh grad student vanished without a trace

Though police and volunteers have reportedly been searching extensively for James over the last several weeks, it was a woman walking her dog along the Ohio River who discovered James’ body.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Debbie Dohmlo was walking her dog behind her home at about 8:45 Monday morning when she thought she saw something floating in the river. Upon closer inspection, she determined it was a body.

“I looked closer … and I saw the ear and the shoulder,” she told the newspaper. Dohmlo, like so many in the community, had been following the investigation into the young man’s disappearance. She told the newspaper she remembered that James was said to have been wearing a red shirt. So when she saw the color red in the water, she feared the worst.

“That’s when I knew,” Dohmlo told the Post-Gazette. 

Pittsburgh police reportedly gave a news conference on Monday afternoon but provided little in the way of specifics about the latest in the investigation. They have not yet revealed the cause of death, and did not anwer questions about what was found with James’s body, expect to confirm that he was wearing the same clothes he had been when he disappeared. More information is expected to be released after an autopsy is conducted.

“At this point, this is an ongoing investigation, and the medical examiner’s has to examine the body,” Assistant Chief of Investigations Lavonnie Bickerstaff reportedly said at the news conference.

This past weekend, search crews and volunteers were out again looking for James. According to WPXI, a significant portion of this weekend’s search focused on the Ohio River.


Photo: Handout