MICHIGAN CITY – A Chicago man whose body was found floating in a pond in rural La Porte County on Friday morning was a homicide victim, authorities said Monday.
Following a forensic autopsy, law enforcement is now investigating the death as a homicide, according to the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.
The autopsy was performed Monday at Franciscan Health Michigan City by the La Porte County Coroner's Office, but Coroner Bob Cutler said the cause of death is being withheld at this point at the request of law enforcement.
The sheriff's office, coroner's office and Chicago Police Department are investigating the death.
On Saturday, Cutler said 47-year-old Joseph D. Clopton of Chicago was positively identified by his sister at Franciscan Health Michigan City.
Clopton had last been seen near his home in Chicago's South Side Englewood neighborhood on Dec. 12, and was reported missing on Dec 16, according to Chicago Police.
Family members had been searching for Clopton, who was known to friends as "Slow/Motion," according to a missing persons alert from police. A $5,000 reward had been offered for his safe return.
The body was found by a citizen Friday morning floating facedown in a private pond the 4300 South block of CR-800E in rural Lincoln Township near Fish Lake, according to the sheriff's office.
The pond was on private property, and deputies went door-to-door in the area trying to find information on anyone who might be missing, Cutler said. They made a tentative ID by checking missing persons reports and then notified the family.
Officials are not saying how long Clopton had been deceased prior to his body being found.
Anyone with information should contact Det. Gabe Struss at 219-326-7700, ext. 2443, or 219-809-7697.