The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

May 29, 2013

Ex-Grand Valley St. QB who went missing found dead

— DETROIT (AP) — A three-day search for one of the winningest college quarterbacks ever ended in a remote wooded area in Michigan, where authorities found his body and were left with a mystery of how he died.

Cullen Finnerty, 30, a former Grand Valley State University quarterback, went missing Sunday while fishing near his family's cottage. His body was found in Webber Township about a mile from where he disappeared, but authorities said no foul play was suspected. An autopsy will be needed to determine how he died, they said.

Finnerty led Grand Valley State University to three Division II national titles and more than 50 wins during his four years as a starter in Allendale, Mich., last decade. His body was found about 8 p.m. in woods within a mile of where he disappeared, said Lake County Undersheriff Dennis Robinson.

Robinson said the body was not in the water and was found in a wooded area in near the family's cottage.

The search drew scores of police and volunteers, including staff and players from Grand Valley State.

Finnerty last spoke to a family member that night in a phone call in which he said "he was nervous about something," Sheriff Robert Hilts said earlier Tuesday. Based on that call, the family suspected "he might be having some kind of a mental episode — that he was either afraid or something and ran off into the woods," Hilts said.

The sheriff said authorities had been tracking Finnerty's cellphone "until it went dead." The terrain made the search for the 6-foot-3, 230-pound ex-athlete difficult, Hilts said.

"This is the last river that I'd pick to fish," he said, citing logjams and dense brush. "And it's a very tough river to navigate."

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