Examiners complete Jenkins’ autopsy

Official results will not be available for weeks, and questions concerning foul play are left unanswered for the Jenkins family.

Emily Ayshford

Although the discovery of missing University student Chris Jenkins’ body provided some comfort for friends and family, unanswered questions remain.

“We still need to find out what happened, so there’s really no sense of relief,” said Chris Bailey, Jenkins’ friend and lacrosse team co-captain.

The Hennepin County medical examiner confirmed Friday the body pulled from the Mississippi River on Thursday was Jenkins, the Carlson School of Management senior missing since Halloween.

The autopsy has been completed, but reports will not be available for a couple of weeks, said Chris Jenkins’ father, Steve Jenkins.

Steve Jenkins said the family does not know whether there is indication of foul play, but a pathologist is examining areas on the body that could either be bruises or spots of decomposition.

Chuck Loesch, a private investigator hired by the Jenkins family, said the examiners have not found anything to indicate death by trauma from an unnatural source – such as a gunshot wound – and they do not believe he died from natural causes. Official results have not yet been released.

There were indications the body had been in the water for some time, Steve Jenkins said.

He also said the family is having the body tested specifically for drugs and for properties of the water in his lungs to see if it matches the water in the Mississippi River.

Dr. Kent Froberg, a medical examiner for southern St. Louis County, said it can be difficult to determine the cause of death from a body that has been in the water for a long time.

Froberg also said a toxicology report will be useless.

“It’s very difficult to find any blood,” he said. “You don’t have any good tissues to work from.”

Froberg said testing for river water in the lungs is probably useless because water would eventually fill them anyway.

Loesch said now that they have a body, Jenkins’ parents might sue in order to question people involved in the case.

“We’ve already got the answers – we just need to get these people under oath to tell the truth,” Loesch said. “It’s going to get kind of ugly.”

He would not specify whom the family is considering suing.

Bailey said even though Jenkins’ body has been found, the same feelings of emptiness remain.

He said he also felt disappointment because Chris’ body was found where volunteers had already searched.

Friend and lacrosse co-captain Ben Simms said he doesn’t yet have a feeling of closure.

“It kind of feels like all the bricks have been taken off my back and thrown into my stomach,” he said.

Friends and family said they thought suicide was out of the question.

“There wasn’t a depressed bone in his body,” Bailey said.

Steve Jenkins said the University community has been “absolutely incredibly supportive.”

“We want to thank everyone for coming to our help for this time of intensity,” he said.

Steve Jenkins encouraged University students to abide by the “buddy system” to keep safe in downtown Minneapolis.

“The streets of Minneapolis are absolutely not safe,” he said.

Steve Jenkins said the family will now focus on finding out how Chris died.

“There now needs to be answers and people held accountable,” he said.

Family holds press conference

At a press conference held Sunday evening, Steve Jenkins said the three doctors who completed Chris Jenkins’ autopsy were “… the best of the best.”

“In an autopsy you hope for information,” Jan Jenkins, Chris Jenkins’ mother, said. “We know we may not get answers.”

Jan Jenkins said sometimes when the family crosses the Mississippi River between Wisconsin and Minnesota, they need to pull over because they are crying so violently.

“You could say it’s the city (that) took our son,” she said.

Chris Jenkins built a bonfire pit in the Jenkins’ backyard shortly before his disappearance, Jan Jenkins said. She said she would sit by it every day and talk to Chris and to God. She said she held out her hands and said, “I don’t know where to go from here, but I’m giving him back to you, God.”

Chris Jenkins’ funeral will be held at Pax Christi Church in Eden Prairie on Tuesday. The family expects 2,000 people to attend the funeral. Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the service will be from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Emily Ayshford welcomes comments at [email protected]