Body of Cumberland County man missing since February pulled from river
BY CINDY STAUFFER, Staff Writer
A Cumberland County man's naked body was pulled out of the Susquehanna River late Saturday morning, the fourth body to be found off the county's shores in just over two weeks.
David L. Hoke, 34, of Upper Allen Township, had been missing since Feb. 22.
His car, unlocked with the keys in it and the radio playing, was found near a Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission access point in Middletown two days later.
Lancaster County Coroner Dr. Stephen Diamantoni said Hoke's body was found entangled in sticks and brush in the river, about 20 to 30 feet from the Lancaster County bank, near a boat ramp in Conoy Township.
The body was between Prescott Road and Kings River Haven Mobile Home Park, said Bainbridge Fire Company boat captain Sean Laverty.
Two boaters saw the body and called 911, Laverty said.
Hoke had tattoos on his body that helped authorities positively identify him within several hours, Diamantoni said.
According to stories in The Patriot-News, Hoke's family thinks he had been searching for items with a metal detector when he disappeared.
Oddly, his clothes, including jeans, red hooded sweatshirt and boxer shorts, later were found in a pile on an island a short distance from the shore, near where his car was found, the Patriot reported.
Hoke had been facing criminal charges, including terroristic threats and harassment, as the result of a disagreement with a neighbor.
He had a court hearing about the charges the day before he disappeared, and family members said he was worried about the outcome of the case, the Patriot said.
His fiancee also indicated the couple had a minor argument shortly before he disappeared, according to a story. Hoke had two sons.
An autopsy will be done Monday, to determine the cause and manner of Hoke's death, Diamantoni said.
Three other bodies were found in the past two weeks.
Diamantoni said the recent cluster of bodies found in the river can be attributed to the warming weather. When the river water warms up, gases in a body expand and increase the body's buoyancy, bringing it to the surface.
A man was found late Thursday near the Safe Harbor Dam.
An autopsy was done Friday but the man has not been not identified, nor has the cause and manner of his death been determined yet.
Diamantoni said the man's body was very decomposed. Police said the body could have floated down the river from as far north as Harrisburg.
Another body was found in the river April 25, near Conestoga Township. That was Jose Suarez-Lopez, 57, a Reading man who had been missing since April 13, after a boating accident.
And the body of Todd Erroll Martin, 42, of Lancaster Township, was found April 21. His death was ruled a suicide, and he is believed to have jumped March 2 from the Norman Wood Bridge in Martic Township.
nBoaters discover body about 20-30 feet from Lancaster County bank, near boat ramp in Conoy Township.