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Cause of death uncertain Missing man’s body found along Cocalico Creek
By: STEPHEN SEEBER Review Staff, Staff Writer
Monday started with a search for a missing Lititz man after his estranged wife reported he was last seen Jan. 2.
The day ended with a search and rescue crew finding his body along a creek bank, about two-tenths of a mile from his home.
Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Chief David Steffen confirmed the identification Tuesday morning as Bradley R. Laird, 54, of 275 Cocalico Creek Road.
Steffen said investigators have no reason to believe the death was suspicious.
"At this time, there is no evidence of any criminal mechanism," he said.
Still, it may be weeks before a cause of death is known.
Following a Tuesday autopsy, county coroner Dr. Steve Diamantoni said the investigation will continue.
"We have not determined a cause or manner," he said, adding that other tests, including toxicology, are being done and it may be three or four weeks before results are available.
Laird, who lived alone, was reportedly last seen around 9:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 2.
"He was gone for a few days and usually checks in with his mother," said Sgt. Josh Kilgore of the Northern Lancaster County Regional Police Department. "He never showed up for an appointment, so his wife came to check on him."
She reported him missing Sunday night.
Regional police and a detective from Ephrata Borough were on the scene early Monday morning. Laird’s home was empty and his truck, with a flat tire, was still in the driveway. Police said it appeared as if he left with his keys, wallet and cell phone.
"We were able to locate a cell phone signal; it was stationary," Steffen said. "Cold weather caused his battery to die, but we knew, based on the geographic markings being provided to us, that we had a vicinity."
Twenty volunteers from Middle Creek Search and Rescue combed the area near his home while a state police helicopter searched from the air. They covered several hundred acres along Cocalico Creek, between Meadow Valley and Rothsville roads. The body was found around 4 p.m., and a positive identification was made at 5:15 p.m. The scene was secured and Cocalico Road was closed to the public until approximately 6 p.m. Rothsville Fire Company also provided assistance at the scene.
Laird is not originally from the Lititz area, and according to police he was not employed locally at the time of his death. He has an adult daughter who lives in Iowa.
"We had officers who didn’t just take a report and wait for things to develop," Steffen said of the investigation. "There was initiative and we used all our means and ability to locate this individual." More DEATH, page A4