Body of missing Colorado teen found in school exhaust vent www.privateofficer.com
Colorado Springs CO Dec 12 2011
Over and over, teenagers and their parents passed the flame between candles. The sound of sniffles coming from cold, grief-stricken teenagers filled the air.
“This isn’t a time to wonder and to speculate about how this happened,” said Kevin Duren, the principal of Widefield High School. “This is a time to celebrate and to remember how Keith lived.”
Gathering in the high school’s lawn, scores of people mourned Keith Cohu, 17, who family and friends believe was found dead in the exhaust vent of a Security elementary school by an off-duty Colorado Springs police officer. He had been missing since Nov. 11.
Lt. Lari Sevene confirmed that Cohu’s identification card was found on the body, however the El Paso County Coroner must still scientifically confirm the person found was Cohu. An autopsy is pending.
Friday’s grim discovery left his aunt, Michelle Schnapp in “disbelief.” The boy — who grew up playing soccer and wrestling — would often visit her for lunch and just “talked about life.”
“He’s just a wonderful person,” Schnapp said earlier Saturday of Cohu. “He had a wonderful life ahead of him. He wanted to be a firefighter.”
The officer, a family friend, was led to the rooftop by tips provided to the family by boys who were with Cohu on the roof of French Elementary School before his disappearance.
One boy told Cohu’s parents they were on the roof when police showed up. “They all took off running and they didn’t see Keith again,” Schnapp said.
The roof was searched by school workers, but the policeman took one more look Friday and found the body after noticing the rooftop lid to the boiler exhaust vent ajar.
When he opened the lid, he peered inside and saw a body 10 to 15 feet down the shaft, deputies said.
The officer, a family friend, had been searching for Cohu over the past week after the boy’s parents became frustrated with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office investigation into their boy’s disappearance, Schnapp said.
Deputies had found Cohu’s vehicle on Nov. 11 on Lake Avenue, Schnapp said. Most of his belongings were still inside, she said.
“His cell phone, his iPod — no personal belongs were taken,” Schnapp said.
Cohu had attended Widefield High School but had recently started taking online classes. On Saturday night, friends and family wept as they remembered his zest for life.
“He never really let anything get to him,” said Ryan Bennett, 16, before looking at the mass of people mourning him. “It’s special. It just shows… how liked he was.”