GRPD: Body found at Highland Park there ‘for some time’

Posted at 3:10 PM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 22:43:40-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids Police say a body found Wednesday in a pond at Highland Park had been there for "some time."

Police were called to the area, off Grand Ave. NE near I-196, at about 1:48 p.m. after a man found the body in a marshy pond area at the park.

Capt. Eric Payne with GRPD said the body had been there "for some time," but that there were no obvious signs of trauma.

The victim has not yet been identified.

"At this time we’ll go back and look at our missing persons [reports] and see if there’s anyone who might be consistent with that," Payne told reporters on scene. "We’re waiting for the medical examiner to determine race, cause of death, time."

Residents living in the area say they were surprised to hear about the body being found so close to home. David VanRhee and Rebecca Brooks say they love taking their two kids to Highland Park.

"Every other day after work we take our kids down here," said David VanRhee. "It's the closest park so it's easiest for us to get to."

"You feel like your kids are safe here because you don't have to worry about them reaching up to the nearest road and worrying about that," said Rebecca Brooks.

The family spent their Wednesday evening swinging on the swings and sliding down the slides not far from where the body was found earlier Wednesday afternoon.

VanRhee and Brooks say they were shocked to hear the news because they've likely been to the park when the body was there.

"We were down here when he was down here and we didn't know it," said VanRhee. "We don't really ever go down in the grass area."

The identity, time and cause of death are still under investigation. Police are going to look through missing persons reports and see if they can find any connections. In the mean time, VanRhee and Brooks say they're still going to take their kids to the park despite what happened.

"It's a happy place," said Brooks. "This is where a lot of families come. It won't stop us from coming, I just really hope they find out more about the person that was down there."

Anyone with information on the incident is asked to call police at 616-456-3400 or Silent Observer at 616-774-2345.