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Police pull body from Lake Irving

A body was discovered on Lake Irving at about 2:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon, May 16, 2013. Shown left are firefighter Trent Eineichner and Bemidji police investigators Mark Nelson and Mike Haines at the scene of the discovery. MONTE DRAPER | BEMIDJI PIONEER

BEMIDJI — Police would not confirm the body of a man pulled from Lake Irving Thursday afternoon was that of Matt Pulis, missing since Oct. 20.

But several law enforcement officials said they believed Pulis’ body was recovered behind a cabin at 710 Woodland Ave., and that members of the missing man’s family were talking with police at the Law Enforcement Center on Thursday afternoon. Rumors also swirled on social media, speculating Pulis’ body had been found, and asking for respect for his family.

Pulis, who was 31 at the time of his disappearance, is the only active missing persons case in the Beltrami County area, according to police.

The Bemidji Police Department secured a helicopter from the Minnesota State Patrol on Thursday to search for Pulis. Iceless lakes and snow-free ground presented a new chance of spotting something, according to Beltrami County emergency services director Beryl Wernberg.

In a release issued Thursday evening, Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said the body was recovered at 2 p.m., and would be sent to the Ramsey County medical examiner for identification and to determine a cause of death. At 7 p.m., police said no more information would be available until the medical examination is complete.

Pulis was last seen Oct. 20, according to police and family, when he was believed to be walking north from downtown Bemidji on Beltrami Avenue Northwest.

In the immediate aftermath of his disappearance, police conducted a 200 block door-to-door search of the area that was believed to have been Pulis’ route home. Boats equipped with sonar equipment also searched area lakes, and helicopters scanned lakes Bemidji and Irving.

Just before 3 p.m. Bemidji police officers and detectives, along with deputies with the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and other emergency personnel, could be seen near the shoreline handling a body bag. A man who lives near where the body was found said it was floating about 50 yards offshore.

Bemidji Detective Mike Solheim, just after police loaded the body into a funeral home vehicle, said police “can’t confirm what we don’t know” and implied official identification of the body may come only after an autopsy.

A woman who owns the cabin said she was “dumbfounded” when police arrived Thursday. She expressed her condolences to the family, who police told her were “relieved.”

Justin Glawe
Reporting on crime, courts and Beltrami county government. Follow me on Twitter @JustinGlawe.
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