A man whose body was found along the Edens spur ramp in Northbrook and tentatively identified as a missing Glencoe man died from heart disease and cold exposure, authorities determined Sunday.
The Cook County medical examiner’s office tentatively identified the deceased as Harvey Caplin, 82. Glencoe police said the body "matches the physical and clothing description" of Caplin. The man whose body was found Saturday died from heart disease, with cold exposure a contributing factor, in an accident, the medical examiner's office determined following an autopsy Sunday.
Caplin was last seen around 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, authorities said, when he wandered away from his home in the 800 block of Forestway Drive, near the Chicago Botanic Garden. His wife, Anne Caplin, previously told the Tribune that she left her home that evening for a quick trip to the post office. When she returned, her husband, who suffered from dementia, had vanished.
His disappearance sparked a multijurisdictional search and galvanized the small North Shore village around the Caplin family.
"I think that everybody was very concerned, and certainly the village went all out in an effort to locate him," Glencoe Village President Lawrence Levin said when reached by phone Saturday. "When you go through a tragic experience like this where a gentleman who was as highly regarded as Mr. Caplin … when they disappear that is something that affects the entire community."
Using snowmobiles, ATVs and K-9 units, authorities from various agencies – aided by volunteers – scoured the forest preserve near the family's home, while helicopters peered down over the snow-covered ground and divers plunged into the icy waters of the Skokie Lagoons.
Tips came in with possible sightings near Dundee Road and I-94, and westbound on the Edens spur ramp. Residents were asked to check sheds and garages – the thought being that Caplin might have sought shelter from the elements.
But Caplin could not be found, and the brutal winter weather forced authorities to postpone the search until mid-March, when warmer weather thawed the ground and offered the first chance to search previously covered areas.
Around 10 a.m. Saturday, a landscaping crew working for a nearby Jewish community center in the 300 block of Revere Drive in Northbrook discovered the body of an elderly male near the fence line of the Edens spur, according to Illinois State Police Master Sergeant Ed Petrik.
The body's condition indicated that foul play was not involved, Petrik said.
Levin could not say for certain whether search teams had previously visited that area.
"There was just too much snow right after he disappeared," he said. "I don't know if that was an area that had been searched, but the body was likely not visible."
Calling the village police department "like family," Anne Caplin said she was made aware of the discovery. She declined to comment further.
"It's a very difficult time for the family," Levin said. "The outcome we had hoped for was a very different outcome."