Remains found in Heidelberg likely those of missing doctor
April 2, 2003
HEIDELBERG, Germany — The skeletal remains of an Army doctor missing for more than two years were found Monday near a train station outside Heidelberg, Army officials said Tuesday.
The remains of 37-year-old Maj. Jon E. Baldwin were found by two boys playing near the railroad terminal where his car was found shortly after he disappeared.
“We’re 99 percent certain it’s him,” said Jorg Hofer, a spokesman for the German police in Heidelberg. Hofer said Baldwin’s dog tags and jewelry were found among the remains.
Friends and family feared foul play when Baldwin mysteriously disappeared without a trace just two days after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Fear turned to confusion when his wife, Sherilyn, found Baldwin’s Subaru station wagon parked outside the train terminal in the Heidelberg suburb of St. Ilgen a few weeks later.
In the months since, many had given up hope that he would ever be found. A ceremony was held in November 2001, “celebrating his life,” said Cynthia Vaughan, a spokeswoman for the Army’s hospital in Heidelberg, and Baldwin’s official status was changed from “missing” to “deceased” in September.
An “in memoriam” plaque was placed at the reception desk of the family practice clinic where Baldwin worked.
On Monday, not far from where Baldwin’s car was found, two boys playing near railroad tracks spotted what officials say are almost certainly Baldwin’s remains.
What is less clear is exactly what happened to Baldwin.
“He was found lying in some thick bushes about 200 meters from the train station,” said Hofer. “There was no hint of trouble.”
U.S. military officials concur. “Foul play is not suspected,” said Ali Bettencourt, a spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Europe. No weapon was found near the body.
“We think it was suicide,” said Hofer, adding autopsy results expected Wednesday should provide more clues. Those results should also help determine when Baldwin died.
Hofer said both German and U.S. investigators had searched the train station area extensively after Baldwin’s wife found his car.
“We used search dogs and there were many people looking,” he said. “We think he must have come back sometime later and then killed himself.”
Friends and co-workers say Baldwin, whose third child was born shortly before he disappeared, had been struggling with deep bouts of depression.
“We are all very saddened by the death of one of our great health-care providers,” said Brig. Gen. Elder Granger, commander of Europe Regional Medical Command, in a statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
Officials say Baldwin, who was promoted from major to lieutenant colonel while he was missing, will be buried with full military honors.