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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Search for missing software engineer ends

 (The Spokesman-Review)

Dental records that arrived in Sandpoint Wednesday morning helped detectives identify a body found in the Pend Oreille River last week as that of Daniel Clune, a 29-year-old software programmer who was missing since the early morning hours of Nov. 6.

Clune was last seen between 1:30 and 2 a.m. after he and a group of friends had spent the evening at the Long Bridge Grill, a popular bar at the south end of the mile-long bridge that spans the river from Sagle to Sandpoint.

He became the focus of a massive search. Deputies with the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office marine unit patrolled the river in boats. Specially trained cadaver dogs were brought in from Montana to search the waters.

Family and friends came across the country from New York City and New Jersey to assist. They printed fliers that were posted as far afield as Spokane, started a reward fund that grew to $10,000, and pleaded for information about Clune on national television and on the Web.

As the weeks passed without any sightings of Clune, who had recently moved to Sandpoint, and without any activity in his bank accounts or on his cell phone, suspicion grew that he had somehow fallen into the frigid waters of the river. Two shoes, of a type worn by Clune, were found washed ashore in the weeks after his death.

A duck hunter recovering some decoys in a bay near Dover, several miles downstream from Sandpoint, found the badly decomposed remains floating offshore just under the surface Saturday morning. The body was shoeless, Lt. John Valdez, a detective with the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office, said Wednesday. The state of decomposition did not allow positive identification of the body, police have said.

An autopsy in Spokane on Monday revealed no broken bones and no apparent physical trauma, Valdez said. With nothing to indicate “extenuating circumstances – there is no sign of foul play – we are probably heading for fresh water drowning” as the listed cause of death, Valdez said. But before detectives make that determination, “we are waiting for toxicology reports,” he said.

Sandpoint police Detective Steve Feldhausen received Clune’s dental records Wednesday morning and drove them to a forensic pathologist in Spokane, who confirmed the body was Clune’s.

“There is really nothing to say one way or other,” Valdez said. “At least the family has some closure.”

Clune family members could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but Tuesday had released an e-mail in which they said they were preparing for the news that the body was Clune’s and praised Sandpoint and Bonner County police for their search efforts.