Body found in river

NEWELL, W.Va. – It could take several weeks before authorities know for sure whether a body found Tuesday on the Ohio River is that of Tim Ralston.

The Chester man has been missing since Nov. 20, 2012, when witnesses said he jumped from the Jennings Randolph Bridge after a violent confrontation with his wife and son.

Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said the body of a white male was found Tuesday afternoon about 10 feet from the Ohio River shoreline near the Wellsville Intermodel Facility.

An employee of Quality Liquid Feeds, which has an office at the Wellsville facility, called 911 at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday after seeing a body in the water, Fletcher said.

Hancock County sheriff’s deputies and Newell volunteer firefighters responded, with firefighters launching a rescue boat to recover the body.

“They recovered the body of a white male wearing blue jeans, a dark Pittsburgh Penguins T-shirt under a hooded sweatshirt and no socks or shoes,” Fletcher said, noting that the man also had surgical scars on both knees.

The identity of the man is not being released pending positive identification by the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. “We believe it’s a possibility it’s someone we might know. I won’t say anything more than that,” Fletcher said.

Before being sent to Charleston, the body was viewed by Hancock County Medical Examiner Dezso Polgar. Identifying the body could take several weeks, depending on the availability of dental records, fingerprint data or other information, Polgar said.

Ralston, who has been missing for nearly five months, is believed to have jumped from the Jennings Randolph Bridge after attacking his estranged wife and 21-year-old son with a pipe. Authorities said he fled their High Acres Drive home in a pickup truck and ended up at the bridge, where witnesses said he left the truck and jumped.

Hancock County authorities also received a report of a jumper from the same bridge on Feb. 19. That report was never confirmed.

The area where the body was found is about seven miles downriver from the Jennings Randolph Bridge. The recovery was handled by Hancock County because most of the river is in West Virginia.