Body of missing St. Thomas student found

Dan Zamlen, a type 1 diabetic, had been missing since early April.

EDITOR’S NOTE: ORIGINALLY, THIS ARTICLE HAD INCORRECTLY STATED THAT THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAD VOLUNTEERED TO SEARCH FOR ZAMLEN. MORE THAN 1,000 PEOPLE HAD VOLUNTEERED. After weeks of searching for Dan Zamlen, more than 100 people gathered at a Friday evening prayer service for the University of St. Thomas student whose body was found earlier that day in the Mississippi River . The Iron Range native, who would have turned 19 in April, had been missing for nearly a month when, late Friday morning, workers at the Ford power plant noticed a body in the river. St. Paul police and employees of the Ramsey County coronerâÄôs office pulled him out, St. Paul police spokesman Peter Panos said. The coronerâÄôs office identified the body Friday evening, but they still do not know the cause of ZamlenâÄôs death. Zamlen disappeared early April 5 after leaving a party where heâÄôd been involved in a disagreement. After he left, he spoke with friends who believed he was walking near St. Clair Avenue and the Mississippi River Boulevard , but their conversation was cut off, and Zamlen wasnâÄôt heard from again. He was a type 1 diabetic and was believed to have been drinking that night. Though the St. Paul police called off their active search for Zamlen weeks ago, more than a thousand volunteers from St. Thomas and the area around his hometown of Eveleth, Minn ., continued looking. There had been a large search planned for Saturday. âÄúThere were those who had been hoping until the last minute,âÄù said Father William Baer , rector of a seminary on the St. Thomas campus where the prayer service was held. There were many tears throughout the service, he said. âÄúThe grief is very raw right now.âÄù Students comforted each other Friday as they filed through the chapel past a display of flowers and photos of Zamlen. Some wore T-shirts with âÄúBring Dan HomeâÄù printed on the front. TheyâÄôd been selling them, along with bracelets, to raise money, ZamlenâÄôs high school friend Natalie Smolich said.

âÄòItâÄôs real nowâÄô

Smolich had been visiting Zamlen at St. Thomas the day before he went missing, and has been there on and off to help with the search. A senior at Virginia High School near Eveleth, Smolich said the past several weeks have been âÄúreally hard because we donâÄôt know anything.âÄù And itâÄôs still hard, she said, because they still donâÄôt know exactly what happened âÄî but also âÄúbecause itâÄôs real now.âÄù It will take three to four more days for the coronerâÄôs office to determine the cause of Zamlen’s death, Panos said. When Zamlen first went missing, St. Thomas first-year Patrick Doran said he and others stayed busy searching, but as time went on and there was less for them to do, things became harder. âÄúMorale went down, and we all just got more and more disappointed,âÄù he said. Doran was part of a tight-knit group of about 10 or 15 of ZamlenâÄôs friends and family members who stuck together over the past few weeks. Though they had still been hoping Zamlen would be found alive, Doran said FridayâÄôs discovery brings closure. âÄúThis, to us, is better than not knowing at all,âÄù he said. âÄú[Friday] was a hard day for us,âÄù he said. But at least, he added, ZamlenâÄôs parents can go home with some closure, even if they donâÄôt know exactly what happened to their son that night. Doran said ZamlenâÄôs parents, who had been staying on the St. Thomas campus, have headed back home to Eveleth. âÄúObviously theyâÄôre distraught,âÄù but theyâÄôre also grateful for volunteersâÄô efforts, Doran said. They had requested Friday not to be contacted by the media, St. Thomas spokesman Jim Winterer said. For Andre Audette , a first-year St. Thomas student, the discovery of ZamlenâÄôs body brings some closure. âÄúI know heâÄôs at peace right now,âÄù he said. Since ZamlenâÄôs disappearance, the St. Thomas campus has been quieter on the weekends, student David Hackworthy said. Doran said the last several weeks have changed his perspective. âÄúYou hear about this all the time, but you never thought it would hit close to home,âÄù he said. Now, Doran said he travels with others at night and makes âÄúsmarter decisions.âÄù

âÄòJust the most caring person everâÄô

Smolich, who went to prom with Zamlen last year, described him as kind and conscientious. He was always volunteering and caring about everyone else, she said. HeâÄôs well-known with the junior and senior classes at his high school, she said, and had been in many clubs. He was voted âÄúteachersâÄô petâÄù in high school. Deep down, she said, he loved the title. Zamlen was intelligent, down-to-earth and âÄújust the most caring person ever,âÄù St. Thomas first-year Audette said. He met Zamlen the first day of school, and they became pretty close friends. They were running buddies, and Audette laughed as he told the story of the time they ran to the Capitol and decided to check out the Republican National Convention but got lost and ended up running for three and a half hours. Zamlen was easy to talk with and liked long, deep conversations âÄî things Doran said heâÄôll really miss about his friend. But itâÄôs ZamlenâÄôs smile, he said, that will stick in his mind. âÄúJust walking into his room and seeing that big smile on his face âĦ You could just tell he was happy,âÄù he said. âÄúThat smile is hard to forget.âÄù