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Death of man found in River Des Peres in St. Louis called 'suspicious'

Death of man found in River Des Peres in St. Louis called 'suspicious'

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ST. LOUIS • A man’s body found in the River Des Peres was identified Thursday as Shawn Gray, 23, of the 7000 block of Nottingham Avenue in St. Louis.

Gray, 23, was last seen on Thanksgiving and was reported missing by his family on Saturday, police said. Gray was found in the river about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday near the Landsdowne Avenue overpass.

An autopsy Thursday could not determine Gray’s cause of death, officials said. The city medical examiner is awaiting toxicology test results to determine if alcohol or drugs may have factored into his death. Gray’s death has been labeled “suspicious,” and homicide detectives were investigating.

Gray lived on Nottingham Avenue, about a block from where his body was found.

His brother, Reginald Taylor, 28, said the family suspects Gray was murdered.

“This is foul play,” Taylor said. “This isn’t right. This is no accident.”

Taylor said he last saw his brother the morning of Thanksgiving Day when Gray was leaving the family’s house to go to work at Cardwell’s restaurant in Clayton, where he was a dishwasher.

The owner of Cardwell’s, Rich Gorczyca, said he last saw Gray leaving the restaurant at the end of his shift about 11 p.m. Thursday. Gray got into his car, which was parked outside Cardwell’s.

Taylor said his family found Gray’s 1997 Acura Integra in a parking lot outside MaggieMoo’s Ice Cream and Treatery off Ladue Road near Interstate 170 in Ladue. The lot is about a half-mile from Cardwell’s, but Taylor said he doesn’t know why his brother’s car would be parked there. Taylor said the car appeared undisturbed and nothing appeared to have been taken.

After reporting Gray missing, the family set up a Facebook account in search of clues.

Gray was the youngest of four brothers and one sister, Taylor said. Taylor said his brother attended Central VPA High School in St. Louis and had taken classes at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. Gray’s hobbies included playing guitar and skateboarding. He would often skateboard either alone or with a few friends in the Shop ’N Save parking lot along Watson Road just west of the River Des Peres.

“This is heartbreaking,” Taylor said. “We’re all taking it real hard.”

Taylor said his brother was saving up to move to the West someday. He was enamored with Colorado, in particular, and hoped to someday start a band.

“He had a beautiful, beautiful heart,” his brother said. “Someone just took his life for nothing. He didn’t have any troubles out here. That’s why we’re so devastated.”

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