Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Traci LeBrun
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Remains of missing man found near park

 

Kenneth Scott Kleppen

The remains of Kenneth Scott Kleppen were found in Sandstone, near Robinson Park, on Saturday, May 6. Kleppen, of Sandstone, has been missing since March 3, 2015.

On May 6, members of the United Legacy search group were conducting a private search for the remains of Scott Kleppen who was 22 years old at the time of his disappearance. The group reported that day they had found human bones in a remote area. Deputies confirmed the bones were of human origin, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) was contacted to assist in processing the scene, according to the Pine County Sheriff's Office.

The bones were transported to the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office for analysis. The Pine County Sheriff's Office stated they are awaiting positive identification before any more information is released but that foul play is not suspected at this time.

Kim Opsahl, mother of Scott Kleppen, said in a statement to the Pine County Courier that found on the skeletal remains were clothing and Scott's wallet, though badly weathered. Opsahl stated that from what she has been told from the search team, it will be difficult to determine the cause of Scott's death, but it is likely accidental due to the fact that a tree was found lying on top of his remains. She added that they are awaiting DNA results to obtain further information.

"There was a closed search of the Robinson Park site by the United Legacy group," said Opsahl. "They came across his remains close to Robinson Park, in an area that is outside of the park itself." She added that the specific location cannot be disclosed as the investigation is ongoing.

"He has been missing for two years, two months and three days," said Opsahl. "We're sad, but we are also comforted to know where he's at and that we found him. To be honest, it's difficult to describe the emotions ... everything from grief to closure."

The search began immediately after Scott's disappearance and included search teams, the sheriff's department, bloodhounds and drones.

But what led to ultimately finding the remains, according to Opsahl, was data collected from all previous searches which alerted the search party to focus attention on some areas over others. The area in which the remains were found had not had much attention because of the density of the woods, which made it difficult to search, and because it was outside the boundary of the park. At the time of finding the remains, the search team was conducting a grid search with just a few feet between each team member.

Within days of his disappearance, Scott's truck was found in the Robinson Park parking lot. A January 2, 2016, Facebook post from the group From Hand in Hand Search for Scott Kleppen, stated that Scott always loved to go hiking in the woods and on rocky terrain and that he loved nature and was a survival enthusiast. The post added that many birthday and Christmas gifts consisted of camping and survival gear, and Scott had everything he would need to make it in the wild.

At the time of his disappearance, the post stated, he left his truck at Robinson Park with an odd, but impersonal, note inside stating he was leaving and hoped others would be happy for him. His phone, keys and approximately $20 were left sitting in the unlocked truck according to the post.

Pine County Sheriff Jeff Nelson stated, "Things are still in limbo. We have not officially identified the body, but with that being said, we do not expect it to be anyone else." He added they are at the mercy of the BCA lab and Midwest Medical Examiners (MME) to identify the remains.

"The condition of what was found appears consistent with the time frame of Scott's missing," said Nelson. "But we do not suspect foul play, and hopefully MME can provide some details on that when they have completed their exam. We treat every scene as a crime scene and process it accordingly."

"I will not be able to say it was him that we found until it is official. Obviously, they want to be right, and it can take several months from what we have been told," added Nelson.

Opsahl stated the family would like to publicly thank United Legacy search group, Minnesota United search group, the various canine search teams, the general public, the media outlets and local newspapers that have kept Scott in mind and never forgotten.

"We have searched the park area a couple dozen times at least," said Opsahl. "There is no real good explanation why we had not located Scott before this except that maybe God didn't think we were ready yet."

A memorial service and funeral arrangements are being made.

Still missing: Cody Christle

Opsahl added that she would also very much like to remind people there are still people missing. One is Cody Christle who was last seen three years ago.

On May 12, 2014, at 1 p.m., Cody Christle, age 20, left a relative's home on foot, at the west side of Hinckley, and has not been seen since. Cody is 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds with brown hair and eyes. It is believed he was wearing an orange baseball cap, an orange shirt, brown jacket and blue jeans at the time of his disappearance. Cody received a heart transplant when he was two months old and has a large scar on his chest. Cody's medical condition requires anti-rejection medicine every day. Cody normally wears a three-inch, gold cross necklace, and five large rings, one of which has an eagle on it. Contact the Pine County Sheriff's Office with any information at (320) 629-8380.

Sheriff Nelson stated the department continues to get information from different sources on Christle's disappearance and considers each bit of information as it's received. He added that one of their investigators is in contact with his mother regularly, but at this time, they do not have any new information to share publicly.

"I encourage anyone with information to contact us, and we will continue to work his case until we find him," said Nelson.

 

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