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Body of missing western North Dakota teen found in Knife River

Law enforcement's search for Beulah High School senior Tyler Schaeffer, who had been missing since May 1, 2022, came to an end on Wednesday, May 11, when authorities located his remains.

Following an 11-day search, the Beulah Police Department have discovered the body of missing 18-year-old Tyler Schaeffer in the Knife River, pictured above, Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
Following an 11-day search, the Beulah Police Department have discovered the body of missing 18-year-old Tyler Schaeffer in the Knife River, pictured above, on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
Dickinson Press file photo
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BEULAH, N.D. — An 11-day exhaustive search has drawn to a close for 18-year-old Tyler Schaeffer. The body of the missing teenager was found in the Knife River Wednesday night, according to the Beulah Police Department.

The 18-year-old was last seen alive walking in Beulah near Congregational Church during the early morning hours of May 1.

The body of Tyler Schaeffer, pictured above, was recovered by the Beulah Police Department from the Knife River on Wednesday, May 11, 2022.
The body of Tyler Schaeffer, pictured above, was recovered by the Beulah Police Department from the Knife River on Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Schaeffer was missing since May 1, 2022.
Contributed / Beulah Police Department

Beulah Police Chief Frank Senn confirmed the news in a phone conversation with The Dickinson Press on Thursday morning. Senn said they located the body in the river, east of the Highway 49 bridge in Riverside Park.

The investigation remains ongoing.

Schaeffer’s body has been transported to Bismarck, where his cause of death will be determined by the North Dakota Forensic Examiners Office. The autopsy should be completed and the findings released within approximately two weeks, Senn said.

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Senn commended the divers and all other emergency personnel, including the Mercer County Dive Team and Burleigh County Swiftwater Team, for working tirelessly in the face of perilous conditions. Due to the April blizzards, river levels were about 4 feet higher than usual and the current was strong.

“The conditions that we had on the river were very dangerous for diving and we had a river that was roughly around 1,200 CFS (cubic feet per second),” he said.

Senn said he spoke with Schaeffer’s mother and that he was glad to at least be able to bring some closure to the family.

“It was the completion of an 11-day search. And very ironically, you know, Tyler’s football jersey number was 11. His mom pointed that out. It’s kind of fitting I guess. The river had to give him up on the 11th day,” he said.

In a Facebook post, the law enforcement leader asked the community to be considerate of Schaeffer’s family and offered a message of empathy to those affected.

“I pray for comfort to Tyler’s family, our Beulah family and all those who prayed for Tyler’s return. Please respect the family’s privacy and funeral announcements will be forthcoming,” he stated. “For all of Team Tyler it’s time to heal, hold your loved one’s a bit tighter today. Thank you for all those who helped in our efforts to find and bring Tyler home. Words cannot express our appreciation and admiration for each of you.”

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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