Minnesota man found dead in river 5 days after fleeing from police

A Richmond, Minnesota man reported missing by his father was found dead in the Watab River five days after he allegedly fled police during an attempted traffic stop.

According to the Stearns County Sheriff, a St. Joseph police officer attempted to stop a car driven by 39-year-old Michael Henry for an equipment violation on Saturday, April 28. The car was slow to pull over but eventually stopped on Leaf Road and County Road 2 just west of St. Joseph. After stopping, the sheriff’s office says Henry fled on foot and headed west. 

Stearns County deputies and local police set up a perimeter and deployed a heat-sensing drone in an attempt to locate Henry, but the search was called off after several hours.

On May 2, Henry’s father contacted the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office to report Henry as a missing person. Deputies tried to ping Henry’s phone, but were unsuccessful. The next day, deputies resumed the search with a K9 unit and drone, but those searches were unsuccessful.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. on May 3, a deputy searching near the south fork of the Watab River located Henry’s submerged body. The body was located approximately a quarter of a mile from the original traffic stop location.

Stearns County investigators responded to the scene to conduct an investigation. All indications show Henry had been in the water for some time. The river is approximately 18 to 24 inches deep in this location and the water temperature is approximately 50 degrees. Investigators attempted to locate the path that Henry may have taken on Saturday, April 28.

Henry’s body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office for an official determination of the cause of death.