There is a "high probability" that Joseph "Joey" LaBute Jr. was already dead when he went into the Scioto River, Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz said today.
LaBute, a 26-year-old Gahanna resident who hadn't been seen since he left a Short North bar earlier this month, was found dead Tuesday afternoon in the river just south of Downtown.
His identity was confirmed Wednesday night, using dental records. LaBute's family was notified of the match, and his name was released this morning by Ortiz.
"There is a high probability that he was dead prior to going in the river," Ortiz said. "We cannot determine that with 100 percent certainty."
The cause and manner of LaBute's death remain under investigation, but police said they have labeled his death suspicious primarily because of the circumstances in which his body was found. Ortiz said further medical and toxicology tests are needed, a process can take several weeks.
"There were no external traumatic injuries" like gunshots or stab wounds, she said.
Columbus police said detectives with the missing persons unit spotted LaBute's half-submerged body near the boat launch off Whittier Street near the Scioto Audubon Metro Park.
Police suspected early on that the body was that of LaBute, noting that the clothing fit the description of what LaBute was reportedly wearing when he went missing. But the condition of the body made its immediate identification impossible.
LaBute was last seen at the Union Cafe in the Short North about 12:30 a.m. on March 5.
His car was found near Goodale Street and Michigan Avenue, where he usually parked when visiting the area. That spot is about a quarter-mile east of the Olentangy River, which feeds into the Scioto about a mile downstream. From the confluence of the two rivers, it is another two miles to the spot where LaBute's body was found.
Police have said they don't know where he entered the water.
Hundreds of volunteers had searched the Short North and Arena District at various points during the past month for clues about his disappearance. His family had gathered on the weekends to pass out fliers.
LaBute was a 2011 graduate of Ohio State University and worked at Morgan Stanley. He grew up in the Worthington area until high school, when his family relocated to southwestern Ohio and he switched to Lakota Local Schools.
A man found dead in the Scioto River three weeks after he went missing from the Short North had "dry" lungs and no water in his stomach, while toxicology tests revealed only alcohol in his system.
The final autopsy report of Joseph "Joey" LaBute Jr., 26, leaves the cause and manner of his death undetermined, although it underscores earlier comments by Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz that the lack of water in his lungs and stomach suggested that he likely was dead before his body entered the river.
Even the finding that LaBute's blood-alcohol level was .15 percent might be misleading because an elevated ethanol level "can be indicative of the decomposition process," the coroner reported.
"Due to the decedent being found in water and the probability that he was in the water for a length of time, we cannot definitively give a cause of death," Ortiz said Monday. "All we can say with certainty is that there were no signs of trauma" such as gunshot or stab wounds.
LaBute was found dead March 29 in the river just south of Downtown, when police spotted his half-submerged body close to the boat launch off Whittier Street near Scioto Audubon Metro Park. His identity was confirmed the following day using dental records.
Police have labeled his death suspicious, primarily because of the circumstances in which he disappeared and where his body was found.
LaBute was last seen March 5 when he left a table of friends and family members at the Union Cafe and walked toward the bar. He never returned. His car later was found near Goodale Street and Michigan Avenue, where he usually parked when visiting the area.
His parking spot is about a quarter-mile east of the Olentangy River, which feeds into the Scioto about a mile downstream. From the confluence of the two rivers, it is about 2 miles to the spot where LaBute's body was found.
This is the third case I've seen in recent weeks where a young man is murdered and dumped in the river. This, along with the known "smiley face" murders, I would say this is a horrific trend. In fact, I have another coming up with the exact same profile. The murders of young men are often, if not always, dismissed. There has been no public outcry about these murders, as there are when women or children end up dead. Everyone just passes it off as "boys being boys" and having too much to drink, using drugs or getting involved with gangs. There is a mistaken belief that men are killed for a reason while women and children are exploited. But young men are abducted for nefarious reasons just as much as anyone else and this needs to be known. The last two cases I posted are prime examples, as is this one.
This chart shows Joey operating under his own power. He has not been abducted or assaulted. Mars, which rules the first, is in the first, showing us that he is fine. The Moon, the chart co ruler, is disposed of by Saturn, also in the first. The person he is about to meet is coming along in a car, as the ruler of the seventh is in the third. The ruler of the seventh, Venus, is disposed of by Uranus in Aries in the fifth. Venus is conjunct Mercury, which is the eighth and tenth house ruler. This may or may not mean this person is a criminal and there is a chance this person is either very young or has a child in their company.
This chart seems to show us Joey in someone else's car. You can see the first house ruler, Jupiter, in the ninth (the third from the seventh) with the seventh house ruler in the third, also a car. Mercury itself seems to describe a car. So I think Joey is in someone else's car at this point. He either met someone where he left his car and went along with them for some reason or was taken from the cafe in another car and his car was moved later. I am not sure which at this point.
Jupiter ruling the first and conjoined the node shows us that Joey had planned to do this in advance. So we can assume, from this inference, that he went along intentionally and was not abducted or forced. And since both Jupiter and the node are disposed of by Mercury, the seventh house ruler, I am positive he knew this person and had intended to go along with this person at this time. So he is in someone else's car willingly.
This chart shows us a confrontation. Joey's co ruler, the Moon, is in the first house with Pluto, both in Capricorn and both disposed of by Saturn in the twelfth. This shows an altercation that may have escalated to violence (Pluto) but one that is not seen by anyone else (twelfth house). Pluto square to Jupiter describes someone pretty sure of him or herself and maybe taking things too far while Moon sextile Mars shows restraint and self control on Joey's part. I do not beleive this blew up into a big fight but the anger was there.
Running the charts well into the morning hours I do not see Joey dead. This means he survived the first night but charts for the next day may show something different. The next chart, for 7 am, shows him being hidden away somewhere and after the markers for a fight, this leads me to believe he was being held against his will but I am not sure why. The fourth house ruler in the twelfth aligned with the first house ruler in Pisces indicates bondage to me. Moon and Pluto in the eleventh may mean he was held for a purpose but I cannot say for sure what that purpose was. It may have had to do with pornography but the markers are not strong. Mars and Saturn together are strong descriptors for confinement and in the ninth house can mean he is held in the woods, in a place in the woods. Could be a hunting cabin or something of the like. Jupiter along with the node in the seventh shows planning in advance, as if Joey were targeted. The presence of the node at this point also indicates that they had planned to bring him here, to the wooded place.
Running the charts forward hour by hour I see little change until that afternoon. In fact, it appears they had in confined somewhere and he was either just sleeping or had been drugged to force unconciousness. He is just not awake. And then, later that afternoon, they kill him or he ends up dead somehow.
This chart clearly shows a death pattern with a violent cause. Pluto in the seventh house shows us a dangerous, violent person who lives by a dark code. Pluto is disposed of by Saturn in the sixth and Saturn also rules the seventh from the sixth. The sign Sagittarius shows us a rugged, outdoors type individual who probably lives in this place in the woods. He (and I say he even though there are no sex indicators and this could be a female... although unlikely) is a hunter or outdoors sportsmen of some sort. He lives by his violent code. Saturn in the sixth means he will be hard to find in the woods, he is a good tracker and can hide successfully for long periods of time. In fact, the sixth house means he may never be found.
Saturn also describes the dead body. We know that Joey suffered little external damage and was not shot or stabbed and probably not beaten. I am thinking this chart shows him unconcious and that he died on the drugs they gave him. When they went to wake him up, they were met with his condition and made violent efforts to bring him around but not the kind that leaves bruises or cuts. They probably shook him and tried to make him walk, this sort of thing. But nothing worked. And the lack of brutality leads me to think that this was either a financial dispute or they wanted him for something. Money is the only marker that stands out at all in these charts so they may have wanted him for porn or drug running or slavery or whatever and did not intend to kill him. His death seems to have been unexpected.
Saturn is disposed of by Jupiter in the third house on the fourth house axis. He does not live far from the victim's residence, even in the same general area. He is familiar with Joey's neighborhood and is involved somehow with children there. Jupiter in Virgo disposed of by Mercury in the ninth could mean he is a teacher of some sort, such as teaching outdoors skills, sports or hunting. Neptune is in Pisces on the tenth house cusp with Mercury there, which tells us that Joey ended up in the water. Saturn square Neptune shows this man does not have affinity for that area, where the water is and does not spend time on the water. He is not likely to be a fisherman or boating enthusiast. Joey was not transported on a boat but just dumped from land or a nearby bridge.
Running the charts hour by hour I just do not see sexual markers. He was not taken by a pedophile, a pervert or a pornographer... and I have no idea, from these markers, why he was taken. There are some markers indicating money so perhaps he owed money for something. Maybe he borrowed money or didn't pay someone money he owed them. But the markers are not strong or clear so I hesitate to say this for sure. It is anyone's guess what they wanted with Joey.
Revisiting the charts for the time when he went along in that car, I see that his motivation was another person, who is described by Mercury in Aquarius. This describes the person who abducted Joey. This person is younger than Joey, is a rogue personality or what is thought of as a "rebel", someone who lives on the edge and doesn't fit in. This person is very attractive (Aquarius) and free spirited. Fair haired and light eyed most likely and easy on the eyes. I would guess this was a female and he met Joey where he left his car. They went for a ride somewhere and little did he know. Think of pretty girls he knew that he would be unafraid of or even interested in. This is where the search should start.