Independence police identify body found in Ohio River as missing NKY man

CINCINNATI -- Independence police identified the body found in the Ohio River over the weekend as a Northern Kentucky man who went missing almost two years ago.

A man's body was found in a truck that was pulled from a section of the river near the California neighborhood in Cincinnati at about 7 a.m. Saturday, officials say.

The Independence Police Department confirmed Monday the man was 51-year-old Mark Allen Smith, an Independence man who went missing on Feb. 16, 2012. Smith apparently made purchases at a BP gas station on Taylor Mill Road and a UDF on Fairfield Road in Bellevue, police say.

Authorities said the truck pulled from the river is believed to be the same truck Smith was driving when he disappeared: a 1999 blue Ford Ranger pickup.

"We've always hoped he'd be found alive...it's bittersweet," said Jane Lewis, one of Smith's sisters.

Mechelle Wallace, Smith's other sister, told 9 On Your Side a wallet was found on the body when his body was pulled from the river. Wallace said she drives frequently by the area where her brother was found.

"I feel kind of sick knowing he's been in the river for two solid years knowing that we've been looking and searching and hoping and praying that we'd have a better outcome. I know that it's supposed to be closure when you find your missing loved one, but when this is what happens I don't know if you can really call it closure," she said.

Smith's sisters said he was the second oldest of four and leaves behind a son and a grandchild.

"I think there's foul play. I believe that somebody had to have put him there. Mark was very responsible, not self-inflict to put in river," said Lewis.

The family does not have funeral arrangements set up at this time.

The case remains under investigation.

Stay with 9 On Your Side and WCPO.com for updates.

 

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