Public Safety

Authorities confirm Jake Wilson's death

Bruce Wilson (left) and Michael Wilson address reporters Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in La Porte City after authorities announced that remains found in Wolf Creek are that of missing teen Jake Wilson . Bruce Wilson is Jake's grandfather, and Michael Wilson is Jake's father. (Jeff Reinitz, Waterloo Courier)
Bruce Wilson (left) and Michael Wilson address reporters Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018, in La Porte City after authorities announced that remains found in Wolf Creek are that of missing teen Jake Wilson . Bruce Wilson is Jake's grandfather, and Michael Wilson is Jake's father. (Jeff Reinitz, Waterloo Courier)
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LA PORTE CITY — Remains found in Wolf Creek earlier this month are those of missing teen Jake Wilson, authorities confirmed Wednesday.

But what still isn’t known is how Jake died.

La Porte City Police Chief Chris Brecher disclosed the results of forensic tests by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation State Laboratory at a news conference.

“There is further analysis that is currently in progress, and we hope that these will provide more definitive answers to the questions we all seek,” Brecher said.

Black Hawk County Sheriff Tony Thompson said those answers may never be known.

“That’s a frustration that we are going to have to live with every time we look the family in the eye,” Thompson said.

Wilson, a 16-year-old autistic high school student, disappeared the night of April 7 when he said he wanted to walk to Wolf Creek, a few blocks from his home, and would be right back.

When he didn’t return, police, deputies and firefighters searched the area. The next day, hundreds of volunteers joined the effort, which continued for weeks.

Recreational kayakers found human remains in the creek Aug. 14 after fluctuations in the water level, and authorities spent days scouring the area for additional evidence.

Brecher wasn’t sure why the remains hadn’t been found earlier, considering searchers had passed through the area up to 30 times before.

“The entire time we’ve been in this creek, the conditions have always changed inside this creek. Where you see a sandbar at one point, at another point it’s no longer there. Everything shifts in the bottom of this creek,” Brecher said.

Thompson said it wasn’t clear where Jake entered the water, but he said the first items were found about 1,100 feet downstream from the railroad bridge on the outskirts of town.

Crews plan to return to the area to search for more evidence and more remains, although it wasn’t clear when. Thompson declined to disclose the nature of the remains but said a “significant” amount of remains have been recovered.

“Just because we’ve answered ‘where is Jake’ doesn’t stop us. We want to repatriate far more than what we have already been able to locate. We want to draw finality all through this investigation,” Thompson said.

“We hope at this point the community can start to heal,” he added.

Jake’s father, Michael Wilson, and grandfather, Bruce Wilson, attended Wednesday’s news conference.

“This is some closure. I know it was to bring Jake home, and in our eyes, in my eyes, he is home,” Bruce Wilson said.

“We are at peace, and it’s always going to be rough for a long time. Forever maybe,” Bruce Wilson said. “I have the answers I need. I know where Jake’s at. … We know Jake is at peace, and he’s at rest, and he’s in the right hands.”

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According to his obituary, a service for Jake will be at 2 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Union High School gymnasium in La Porte City. The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to the family at Cedar Valley Bank and Trust in La Porte City. Inurnment will be at a later date.

The father’s side of the family last week announced plans for a memorial service at 11 a.m. Saturday at Candeo Church, 1405 Greenhill Rd. in Cedar Falls.

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