Searchers Locate Body of Missing Man on His Birthday

December 23, 2017 Updated: December 23, 2017

Police recovered the body of a man missing for over a month from under the sheet of ice covering Lake Silkworth, about 30 miles southwest of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Adam Lutz, of Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, had been missing since mid-November. He was recovered on Dec. 22, which would have been his 23rd birthday.              

Family and friends stood lakeside and watched as the body was brought out of the ice-covered water.

“It’s a bittersweet moment for them. Today was Adam’s birthday actually, so near to Christmas and on his birthday, it’s a bittersweet thing for them,” Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Daniel Zola told WNEP, the local ABC affiliate.

Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman told the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader that the family had positively identified the body.

Lutz, 22, disappeared on the night of Nov. 9. His car was found parked at the intersection of Roberts Street and Route 29 near Lake Silkworth. State police said he was out driving with a friend, stopped, and got out.

What may be his last moments were captured by a surveillance camera mounted on a clubhouse on Route 29. On the video, Lutz pulls into the parking lot, exits the car and walks toward the lake.  

At first police hoped he had merely wandered off.

After three days, the search for a living person turned to an effort to recover a body, and police focused their efforts on the lake.

“We’re focusing our efforts on the water,” said Lehman Township Police Officer Harold Cain told WNEP on Nov. 12. “There are still some people out on foot searching areas, but this general area within miles has been searched on foot, also by helicopter, so pretty much the ground has been covered.”

Local police used K9 units, helicopters, and dive teams to locate the body.

(Screenshot—WNEP News)
(Screenshot—WNEP News)

Eventually, State Police got involved, deploying a specially trained team equipped with sonar and an underwater camera. This team located the body in 20 minutes, according to Lieutenant Gary Vogue of the Wyoming, Pennsylvania State Police barracks.

“Today, we actually brought in our State Police Marine Patrol from Erie and Philadelphia,” Vogue told the Times-Leader. The marine patrol had been busy elsewhere before Dec. 22.

Searchers had to bore a hole in the layer of ice covering the lake before lowering in the submersible camera.

(Screenshot—WNEP News)
(Screenshot—WNEP News)

Once the body was located, the dive team from the Germania Hose Company, based in Duryea, recovered it.

The body will be autopsied on Dec. 26. Until a cause of death has been established, ADA Zola said, the investigation was open—no judgment could be made as to whether foul play might be involved.

Jeff Henry, owner of a nearby restaurant, had watched the entire search since day one.

“Well, it’s been a long time coming,” Henry told WNEP. “I’m glad they recovered the body today. Hopefully, it brings some closure to the family.”