A 30-year-old American Fork man, who was reported missing more than two weeks before police found his body in August, died of drowning in South Salt Lake’s section of Mill Creek.
A medical examiners report released to the public Thursday included the cause of death and said that Paul Swenson tested positive for alcohol and THC — the main active ingredient in marijuana.
The report also noted there were no signs of foul play, according to South Salt Lake Officer Gary Keller.
Swenson was initially reported missing by his wife, Ashlee Swenson, after he left their home on July 27. She told police that he’d been acting strangely before his disappearance.
The next day, police found the SUV Swenson had been driving, parked unoccupied on the side of the road at Park View Elementary, 970 S. Emery St. (1150 West), in Salt Lake City.
Inside the vehicle, police found a backpack of clothing and a cellphone that did not appear to belong to Swenson. At the time, police took fingerprints and DNA samples from the vehicle, said American Fork Sgt. Josh Christensen.
Swenson’s own phone had been turned off, police said. None of his credit cards had been used.
Ashlee Swenson, a blogger who has tens of thousands of followers on her social media accounts, used her internet fame to summon hundreds of searchers to look for the missing man. Searchers distributed posters that plastered store windows and cars throughout the state.
Law enforcement agencies along the Wasatch Front also poured resources into the search.
The case drew attention from people across the nation, many of whom speculated about Swenson’s disappearance, but none of the rumors were substantiated by the police investigation, said Christensen.
On Aug. 13 about 4 p.m., police located Swenson’s body in Mill Creek in South Salt Lake.
Someone reported a body floating near 130 West and 2950 South, police said. Swenson’s body was recovered several blocks downstream, where it had been caught on debris.
Toxicology results took months to compile, and Keller said the department is still waiting on results from evidence sent to the FBI.
Police agencies had sent parts from Swenson’s abandoned vehicle to the FBI, in hopes that it would help them determine where the SUV had been. Police hope to then create a timeline and figure out “exactly where he went,” Keller said.
Though the family has not posted on the Facebook page “Bring Paul Home” in months, Ashlee Swenson wrote a blog post three weeks ago expressing her heartache from the loss of her husband, whom she regarded as her “world.”
“My heart goes out to and aches so deep for the millions of people who have lost their worlds in an instant,” she wrote. “We all have to bind together in this trying time.”