Body found near South Platte River identified as Adam Gilbertson, man missing since Dec. 15

Family had organized search party Saturday
Posted at 10:34 AM, Jan 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-14 20:07:20-05

DENVER -- A body found near the South Platte River Saturday afternoon has been identified as that of Adam Gilbertson, a Minnesota native who disappeared after a night out in Denver almost a month ago.

The Denver Office of the Medical Examiner confirmed the man's identity on Sunday in a press release sent to Denver7. 

Officers with the Denver Police Department were conducting a search and a subsequent death investigation near Kalamath and Virginia Saturday at around 3:30 p.m. after a member of a search party looking for Gilbertson informed them they had found a body near the river. 

Investigators could only say the body had been there "for some time."

As of Sunday morning, the cause and manner of death are pending further investigation.

Gilbertson's family was along the riverbank on Sunday, at the same location where he was found.

"On the other side of the river, the first time we came down here, we searched here," his sister, Amy Linnell, told Denver7's Amanda del Castillo.

In reaction to the news of her brother's death, Linnell said, "We always knew that this was a possibility." However, Linnell said having that knowledge didn't make the loss of her younger brother any easier.

Gilbertson's cousin, Shannon Saesan, acted as the family spokesperson throughout his disappearance.

"We weren't going to stop until we found Adam," he said.

The family explained it was a volunteer searcher who ultimately found Gilbertson's body in the Platte River. 

The volunteer told Denver7 he separated from Saturday's search group and went off on his own, when he made the discovery.

"We wanted to kind of come and see for ourselves where he was and what not," Saesen said.

The scene on Sunday was now the site of a growing memorial.

"He'd be really happy, he'd be really happy," Linnell said.

Crime Scene investigators were still on-hand processing new evidence as of early Sunday afternoon.

Family organizes search party for missing relative

Gilbertson’s family met with more than 100 volunteers on Saturday morning to search for their relative who disappeared without a trace in mid-December.

Gilbertson, a 29-year-old registered nurse, never showed up for work on the morning of December 15. His employers called his sister, Amy, who was his emergency contact, and she immediately knew something was wrong.

Surveillance video detailed Gilbertson’s whereabouts on the night of Thursday, December 14 through early Friday morning.

The Minnesota native, living in Denver, was initially out with friends. He continued the night alone and was seen leaving Charlie’s Nightclub on East Colfax just before midnight.

At 12:53 a.m. that day, Gilbertson was captured on video as he left Syntax Physic Opera bar on South Broadway.

Newly discovered surveillance footage put the 29-year-old north of West Alaska Place at 1:05 a.m., between South Cherokee and South Bannock Streets. According to his family, he was seen heading northwest.

Saturday’s search efforts put the group of volunteers and family members at the old Kmart location in Denver, off West Alameda Avenue.

Missing under strange circumstances

Gilbertson’s Honda Fit was parked down the block from his South Logan Street home, but there was no sight of him after he had disappeared. His family told Denver7 his keys were found on a countertop, and Gilbertson’s side-door was unlocked.

Gilbertson's family told Denver7 he went to nursing school in Wyoming while he lived in Fort Collins. He graduated from the program last spring and moved to Denver for a nursing job back in August.

Family thankful to the community

In a message posted to Facebook, the family said they wanted to thank the more than 130 volunteers, most of whom did not even know Gilbertson.

A vigil is scheduled at 4 p.m. this Sunday at Habitat Park on Jason and Virginia Streets for Gilbertson, according to information provided to Denver7's Amanda del Castillo. 

If you have information about this death investigation, contact Denver Police at (720) 913-2000, and tell them you're calling about case number 17-837-972.