(Updated Monday with news from Northfield Police Department and to reflect the coroner's report.)
Three weeks to the day after a Northfield man was reported missing, his body was found in a farmer's field on Saturday.
According to a release from the Northfield Police Department, at about 1 p.m. Rice County Sheriff’s deputies and Northfield Police officers responded to a report of a found body in a slough/field area southeast of Woodley Street East and Hall Avenue in Northfield. A local farmer discovered the body while doing field work. Members of Northfield Fire-Rescue and the Rice County Coroner’s office responded to assist.
Initial investigative reports indicate the cause of death was determined to be suicide, and that the time of death was roughly consistent with how long Nevin had been missing.
Officers identified the deceased male as Christopher Monroe Nevin, who had been reported missing on April 5, the week before he was due to be sentenced on a sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult charge stemming from a 2013 incident.
Police Chief Nelson said the conviction was not mentioned in early reports of Nevin's disappearance because he said he didn't believe it was relevant.
The Northfield Police Department has dedicated at least 150 hours searching for Nevin since he went missing in early April. The volunteer group Northstar Search and Rescue organized three searches with trained dogs, and Carleton College security assisted officers searching the campus arboretum, where it was supposed that Nevin was heading. Friends and family of the missing man also organized searches.
Northfield Police Chief Monte Nelson expressed thanks for all the groups involved in the three-week search.
“There’s never enough that we can do,” he said. “We do what we can and do the best we can, and hope that we can come up with a result.”
Last Saturday morning, Christopher Monroe Nevin, of Northfield, walked out of his home, and his family hasn’t seen him since.
Nevin, 44, was last seen around 12:30 p.m. at the Northfield golf course, heading in the direction of the Carleton Cowling Arboretum. The Northfield Police Department did a scent search of Nevin’s home Tuesday and staged a large-scale search of the college arboretum Wednesday, but so far no results have turned up.
“We’re being as thorough as we can,” said Sgt. P.T. Haider. “We’re working hard to make sure we have a good resolution for the family as soon as we can.”
Wednesday’s search included five dogs, handlers and horses as about 20 people from the Northfield Police Department, the Dakota Sheriff’s Department, Northstar Search and Rescue and the Northfield Police Department reservist program looked for the missing man.
Nevin used to work at Carleton and has been reported as enjoying the arboretum, so the Northfield Police Department decided to start searching there.
After searching all day Wednesday, Police Chief Monte Nelson said the searchers found nothing related to Nevin. While he said the department is still deciding what step to take next, he added that any future searches will likely include the numerous community members who have volunteered to help look.
The department also sent out a missing person alert to Twin Cities media outlets and other parts of the state.
“We’re still weighing our options and taking this minute by minute,” Haider said. “It’s a fluid situation.”
The Northfield community has already rallied around Brenda, Nevin’s wife, and his family. Local resident Shannon Miller has started a Facebook group called “Help Find Chris Nevin.” More than 750 people have joined the group already and have begun organizing volunteer searches, which are documented on a “Google Earth” map set up on the Facebook page. People can also send checked locations to a gmail account, firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group has also started a list of volunteers if the Northfield Police Department will need assistance in the process. Anyone can join and share information. In addition, an account system has been setup at Wells Fargo to help with family expenses: Chris Nevin Family Donation Trust.
Sheri Acosta, a close friend of Brenda Nevin, said Brenda is grateful for the outpouring of support she has received from the Northfield community and also for the time and resources that the Northfield Police Department and others have put into the search. She added that she is also grateful to Sgt. Haider, who has “gone above and beyond and been wonderful in the whole process.”
Nevin is 5-foot, 11-inches and 230 pounds with brown hair. He was last seen wearing brown Sorel boots, a black jacket and possibly a baseball cap.
He suffers from depression and recently stopped taking his medications. He left most of his possessions at his home, including his cell phone and his wedding band.
Nevin was due to be sentenced next week on a sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult charge stemming from a 2013 incident, which he was convicted of this February. No more information about the incident was available.
Nelson said while the department was aware of Nevin’s record, officers are focused on finding the missing man.
“We have no reason to believe he’s any danger to the public,” he added.
Citizens with information regarding Nevin or his whereabouts are urged to call the Northfield Police Department at 507-645-4475.
Grace Webb covers the cities of Northfield and Lonsdale, and writes about public safety. You can reach her at 645-1117.