EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 15, 2013

Body of missing Georgetown man found in wildlife area

By Angeljean Chiaramida
Staff Writer

---- — GEORGETOWN — It wasn’t the end anyone hoped for as they spent days searching for missing Bo Hedberg in the 2,100 acres of Crane Pond Wildlife area, but yesterday the 65-year-old resident’s body was found under a pile of snow about a mile from his home.

According to Georgetown police Chief James Mulligan, at about 9:10 yesterday morning, with the help of a volunteer K-9 search unit, local officers and detectives were able to locate Hedberg’s body.

“The K-9 set on a location, and Detective Jim Rodden dug into the snow and found Mr. Hedberg’s body,” Mulligan said. “We were able to make a positive identification using his personal effects.”

Mulligan personally notified Hedberg’s wife.

“This was not the outcome anyone wanted,” Mulligan said. “But at least we’re hoping that by finding his body, the family will have some closure.”

Mulligan said the cause of death has not yet been determined, adding that the case was now in the hands of the state medical examiner’s office.

“We’re not going to speculate,” Mulligan said. “We’re going to wait for the report of the medical examiner.”

Hedberg was reported missing by his wife, Gail Hedberg, last Thursday evening, saying she had returned home and found no signs of her husband. Gail Hedberg is the owner of The Shake Station on Unicorn Street in downtown Newburyport.

According to a Facebook page created by Gail Hedberg, her husband was injured in a motor vehicle accident a week prior to his disappearance and was wearing a green ski jacket and jeans when he left the house.

Mulligan said police immediately sent out missing person’s bulletins across the state, asking law enforcement everywhere to be on the lookout for Hedberg. Hampered by this weekend’s severe snowstorm, after the blizzard, police and others began what would be days of combing of the 2,100-acre Crane Pond Wildlife Management Area, which abuts Hedberg’s home.

The Crane Pond area, which has a handful of nature trails meandering through a densely wooded terrain, is located in a remote corner of Georgetown straddling the Byfield/West Newbury border. It is one of the largest undeveloped tracts of land in the region. Much of it has been flooded in recent years by a steady return of beavers, and many parts of it are inaccessible due to wetlands.

Using technology to help with the search, police centered their search around the Crane Pond area based on a cell phone ping they picked up at the location.

Yesterday morning, Mulligan said, with the help of Hedberg’s cell phone company, the police performed another ping on the phone and with the assistance of state park rangers, while utilizing GPS locating equipment, searched another area of the huge reserve. It was there, not far from his home, that Hedberg’s body was discovered.

Mulligan said the search was a massive effort, and included personnel from numerous agencies, all coordinated by Georgetown’s Lt. Donald Cudmore, Detective Supervisor Tom DeJoy and Detective Jim Rodden. In all more than 35 officers searched 101 acres of the wildlife area.

Helping with the search were the Georgetown Fire Department, state Park Rangers, the state Environmental Police, the Massachusetts State Police, along with Newbury’s Police Department, the Grovetown Police and Fire departments, and volunteer K-9 search units with specially trained dogs.

State Park Rangers were enormously helpful, he said, creating a grid of the Crane Pone area for officers to scour, developed by the evidence provided, including the cell phone pings. Newbury was generous, he said, providing snow vehicles helped searchers navigate over last weekend’s snow fall.

At times, Mulligan said, there were 35 professionals at a time in the field to methodically cover the snow-covered acres, desperately trying to find Hedberg, as precious hours passed and temperatures dropped.

“Basically, after hours and hours searching, these individuals only went home to rest for only a short while, then returned to the search,” Mulligan said.