Police Lights

Daily Journal staff report

WILMINGTON — The preliminary cause of death of a 67-year-old Wilmington man whose body was found Wednesday has been ruled to be hypothermia.

According to a release from Wilmington police, the body of Melvin D. Von Kaenel was discovered lying in Deer Creek by officers.

They were called to the 1500 block of Charlotte Street to check on a vehicle that had run off the road near the creek.

Officers found a 2005 GMC SUV unoccupied at the dead end of Charlotte Street, resting against the concrete bridge support there. The vehicle was closed with no keys in it. Sgt. Adam Zink began a check of the area and discovered Von Kaenel’s body nearby.

Further investigation revealed that it appears that after getting stuck at the dead end, Von Kaenel got out of his vehicle and started to walk, falling down the embankment and into the creek where he was found.

Investigators found no signs of foul play at the scene.

While officers were on scene, Von Kaenel’s family called to report him missing. Von Kaenel had left his home on Derby Court about 10 p.m. on Tuesday and had not returned home. Family members believed he had stayed with his girlfriend. When they contacted her, she said he had not been there.

An autopsy was performed Thursday. A final cause of death awaits toxicology results.

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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