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Coroner, police ID body of man found in Codorus Creek last month
York County officials have determined the identity of a man whose body was found dead on a rock in the Codorus Creek in East Manchester Township last month.
Charles Keitt, 57, apparently had been homeless for some time, Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said on Friday, Sept. 14.
Keitt had been living in York County, in the Philadelphia area and in Allegheny County, according to York County Coroner Pam Gay. She said he was last seen at LifePath Christian Ministries in York City on or around Aug. 8.
Investigators had trouble identifying him and had sent out photos of clothing items identical to those he was wearing, in the hope of jogging someone's memory.
But it wasn't the clothing that finally led to Keitt's identification, according to Rizzo.
"We were having trouble getting fingerprints off the body because of the condition of the body," he said. "But earlier this week we were able to use a different procedure."
That new fingerprint technology made the difference.
"We were able to get a good palm print," Rizzo said. "Thankfully, he had an arrest record."
York charge: Keitt was charged earlier this year with possessing drug paraphernalia in York City, to which he pleaded guilty on March 26, according to court records.
Statewide court records indicate Keitt had a lengthy criminal record in the Philadelphia area that included charges of robbery, simple assault, theft and shoplifting.
The discovery of Keitt's identity has so far not helped investigators determine how he died, and whether his death was natural, accidental, suicide or homicide, according to Rizzo.
Gay stated in a Friday news release that the cause and manner of Keitt's death remain undetermined.
Now the investigation can focus entirely on the whys and hows, Rizzo confirmed.
"We're still looking into who last saw him alive," he said, "trying to see if we can backtrack and find out what happened. We still don't know why he was in the creek."
It's not yet known whether Keitt was dead before his body went into the creek or if he died while in the creek, Rizzo said.
People who saw Keitt in the weeks leading up to his death might be able to provide clues that help detectives solve the case, according to the chief.
"Any information that anyone can give us about this man could be helpful," he said. "It may seem insignificant, but it could help us in our investigation."
The background: A family called police after finding Keitt's body in the Codorus Creek in the Starview area of East Manchester Township shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.
The area of the creek where the Keitt's body was found is along Starview Sportsmen's Association property, which is off Jerusalem School Road, the chief confirmed.
It was in the creek and partially on a rock, Rizzo said, adding it appears the creek's current floated the body there.
Rescue crews from Union Fire Co. in Manchester retrieved the body from the water, he said, and were assisted by crews from Eagle Fire Co. in Mount Wolf.
The original 911 dispatch indicated the family believed the body was in the area of the Codorus Furnace Road bridge, so Hellam Township Police initially got involved, according to Rizzo.
Keitt was about 5-feet-9 and was small and thin in stature, police have said.
He was wearing a black Ecko Unlimited T-shirt with blue and white script, Southpole Flex designer jeans and blue Puma Roma World Cup sneakers with blue laces, size 8½, police said.
There was no obvious trauma to Keitt's body, according to Gay.
Recent client: Keitt had become a client of LifePath Christian Ministries — formerly the York Rescue Mission — just a couple of months ago, according to James Young, who mans the front desk at LifePath.
Keitt indicated he was originally from Philadelphia, Young told The York Dispatch.
"When he first came in, he was obnoxious," Young said.
But later, the two had some pleasant conversations, according to Young, who said Keitt "was a nice guy" when he was sober.
Anyone who knows Keitt or who saw him in the last couple months is asked to call Northeastern Regional Police at 717-266-6195, ext. 109, or call 911.
"They can be anonymous, if they so choose," Rizzo has said.
Gay said her office is still seeking Keitt's next of kin, and she asks that anyone with information about his family call the York County Coroner's Office at 717-840-7617, or call police.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.