Impact Of First IowaWatch Story 5 Years Ago Remains With Reporter

It started with a short news clip. On October 12, 2009, The Daily Iowan ran a 244-word brief saying that University of Iowa business student Jacques Similhomme, missing for two weeks, had been found dead in the Cedar River. I hadn’t heard Similhomme was missing, and that seemed strange since he was a fellow Hawkeye. Even more bizarre, his death was buried deep inside the university’s newspaper. I recalled an incident in September 2006 while I was a student at Grinnell College.

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Around 1 p.m. on a cold, gray Oct. 10, volunteer searcher Merry Thies snapped her cell phone shut and relayed the news to Dessalines Similhomme: “They found a body in the river.”

Similhomme, 58, nearly collapsed, and his friends half-carried him to his car, witnesses recall. Sitting in the passenger seat, he sobbed deeply. One hour later, Similhomme paced down the bank of the Cedar River and peered through mangled tree limbs. He let out a piercing scream as he spotted a bloated, faceless dead man floating in a shallow section of the river.