Jenkins receives posthumous degree; autopsy remains inconclusive

Rocky Thompson

The University posthumously awarded Chris Jenkins a business degree Sunday, almost four months after authorities pulled his body from the Mississippi River upstream from the Minneapolis campus.

Sara Jenkins accepted her brother’s bachelor’s degree, which Chris was expected to complete in May, at the Carlson School of Management commencement ceremony.

It is the first such degree the Carlson School has awarded and comes a week after the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office released autopsy results to Jenkins’ family.

After viewing the report, Jenkins’ mother, Jan, said Chris apparently died from drowning, though the cause of death was ruled as undetermined.

Jenkins’ graduation is one bright spot in the eight months since his disappearance, and the Jenkins family said they are still looking for answers.

They have hired a private investigator who is still working on the case.

Jenkins’ disappeared on Halloween after leaving the Lone Tree Bar & Grill in downtown Minneapolis dressed as an American Indian. When police recovered his body from the river south of the Third Avenue bridge, Jenkins was still wearing the costume and slip-on clog shoes.

Angela McArthur, a University assistant director of anatomy bequest and a former Ramsey County medical examiner, said one reason autopsy results can take so long is that all causes of death – such as trauma, foul play, drug overdose or any natural cause – must be ruled out before examiners can name drowning as the cause of death.

The autopsy determined his blood alcohol level at 0.12 percent from tissue samples from his heart and 0.07 percent in his muscle.

Accurately determining blood alcohol level in bodies can be difficult after a body has been underwater for a long time, McArthur said. Blood alcohol levels can fluctuate if organisms decomposing the body create alcohol.

Authorities maintained that Jenkins case is unrelated to other young men who disappeared last fall.

Michael Noll, a 22-year-old Rochester, Minn., native attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, disappeared after leaving a bar on Nov. 6. His body was recovered from a lake March 25 and his cause of death is also probable drowning.

Josh Guimond, a 20-year-old St. John’s University student who disappeared on Nov. 9 after leaving an on-campus party in Collegeville, Minn., has still not been found.

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