The father of Chad Killen, who ran away two years ago and whose body was found May 5 in Murray Lake, is still waiting to lay his son to rest.
Killen's body remains at the Livingston County Medical Examiner's office, Bill Killen said, undergoing tests to determine cause of death. Killen said he expects it will take a while, and until then he can't plan a funeral for his only son.
Killen, who now lives in Fenton, said he is getting by with the support of family and friends. He has asked the community for donations to help cover the cost of arrangements because he is on medical disability and wasn't prepared for the sudden news of his son's discovery.
"It's not what I expected the outcome to be," Killen said of the day his son ran away.
A troubled teen
According to Chad Killen's missing person report, filed by the Michigan State Police-Brighton Post, the teen argued with family and ran from his Brighton home on May 21, 2009. Since then, he had made no contact with family or friends and was classified as an "endangered runaway."
According to his dad, Killen was a 17-year-old freshman at Brighton High School who liked video games, hunting and fishing, and "got along with everybody."
Yet, Bill Killen, who had sole custody of his son after a divorce, also described him as a "difficult kid," who socialized with an older crowd.
"He was hanging around school kids who were dragging him across the street smoking cigarettes," Killen said in an interview with Brighton Patch. "He got kicked out of school and he didn’t want to go by my rules so he got mad and he left. That was the last time I heard from him."
On Friday, which coincidentally would have been Killen's 19th birthday, Hamburg Police Acting Chief Brian DeNoyer announced that the Livingston County Medical Examiner used dental records to identify the remains found by a kayaker in Murray Lake the day before as Chad Killen's.
Located in Brighton State Recreation Area, Murray Lake is just a few miles on foot from the Killens' then-home on Grand River Ave. in Brighton. The lake has a rustic campground on one shore.
There is speculation that the teen drowned, yet his father said he was a strong swimmer, who left home in broad daylight on a spring day.
"It’s a mystery right now until I hear back from forensics," said Bill Killen. "Something went wrong and that’s why they’re doing a whole bunch of tests to get answers."
What happened after Chad Killen disappeared into the woods may never be known. DeNoyer would not speculate as to what caused Killen's death, although he was quick to point out that he doesn't suspect foul play. He said the only thing to do now is wait for the ME's report, although an autopsy may be inconclusive due to the condition of the body.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's over," DeNoyer said.
Killen said he will likely plan a small funeral for friends and family in Mikado, Mich., where his family is from.
"I'm waiting to get him back, so I can get everything arranged, all set up and get him buried with his Grandpa," Killen said. "He’ll be buried with my dad."
The Livingston County Medical Examiner's office had no comment on the case.
Bill Killen has started the Chad Killen Memorial Fund to raise money to help put his son to rest. Donations are being accepted at all Bank of America locations, routing number #3750-0883-7421.