Glencoe police said today that a body found this weekend near the Edens Expressway spur ramp in Northbrook was wearing a medical ID bracelet worn by an 82-year-old Glencoe man missing since January.
Glencoe Police Deputy Chief Alan Kebby said a landscaping crew working on the property at a Jewish community center near the Edens spur ramp contacted Northbrook police Saturday morning after finding the body, which the medical examiner’s office has tentatively identified as that of Harvey Caplin.
The Cook County medical examiner's office determined following an autopsy Sunday that the man died from heart disease, with cold exposure a contributing factor. The death is the 31st this season from cold-related causes in Cook County, according to a spokesman for the medical examiner's office.
A positive identification of the man is still pending the results of dental records and DNA testing, Kebby said.
If the man is identified as Caplin, Kebby said he may have walked in frigid, snowy weather roughly one and a half miles from his home at the 800 block of Forestway Drive to Dundee Road, then headed west on Dundee toward the Edens near the spur ramp.
"He may have been attracted to the lights and we did have unconfirmed reports of sightings of people walking near the Edens," Kebby said, adding, that "we also had a lot of disabled motorists that night because of all the snow, and they were walking around that area, too."
Caplin was last seen around 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, authorities said, when he wandered away from his Glencoe home 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.
For the past two and a half months, officers with the Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the forest preserve district, the Illinois State Police and Glencoe police – assisted by neighboring police departments – launched multiple searches for Caplin using helicopters, ATVs, snowmobiles and K-9 units, with divers combing the waters of the Skokie Lagoon.
But Kebby said the brutal winter's record snowfall and sub-zero temperatures hampered the search, and officials awaited the spring thaw, realizing that once the foliage began budding on trees and ground cover, officials would have yet another visibility problem.
"Not a day has gone by when a resident has not stopped us and asked about this case. And in a small town like Glencoe, it’s not just a missing man – they all knew Mr. Caplin by name," Kebby said.
"This could bring some closure for the family and the community, but it might not make anyone feel any better, as they’re still grieving a loss."