Missing Oakley man found dead in Salt Lake County | ParkRecord.com

Missing Oakley man found dead in Salt Lake County

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

A body discovered near the University of Utah on Sunday has been identified as Oakley resident Douglas Todd Nelson.

Nelson had been missing since last August. He was 52 years old when he disappeared.

Detective Ron Bridge, a spokesman for the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, said a pipeline worker found the decomposed body in Red Butte Creek.

A crew was cleaning up an oil spill when a Chevron employee saw a human foot in a pile of debris near Red Butte Garden.

The body was covered in oil, Bridge said.

Bridge, who attended the autopsy, said he obtained dental records from the man’s dentist about six months ago.

X-rays taken after the discovery matched records of Nelson.

Nelson also had a prosthetic knuckle on his right hand, which helped investigators identify his remains, Bridge said.

Bridge said the cause of death is unknown.

"I would be willing to bet that we will never know the exact cause of death," he said. "The body showed no signs of trauma or injury."

Nelson was last seen at University Hospital in Salt Lake City after undergoing a voluntary mental examination on Aug. 20. He was reported missing Aug. 25.

"Mr. Nelson was very loved by his family," Bridge said. "They were relieved to have the situation come to a conclusion."

When his body was recovered, Nelson was wearing the same shorts he had on when he visited the hospital last summer, Bridge said.

"The location where he was located was extremely difficult to get to," Bridge said.

Investigators estimated the body had been in the creek for several months, Bridge said.