Missing Lancaster man's body found near creek, family says

LANCASTER COUNTY, S.C. — A Lancaster County man who disappeared nearly a week ago was found near a creek Wednesday. His family told Channel 9 he was found deceased.

Officials said he died of exposure due to the environment.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said Jerry Cauthen, 74, walked out of the Heath Springs Residential Care Center Friday afternoon. They said he had just moved into the facility on Thursday.

"It wasn't the outcome we wanted but it's closure," said Cauthen's daughter-in-law Nicole Threatt.

She told Channel 9 he was found around 11 a.m. Wednesday in a wooded area near a bridge off Flint Ridge Road.

"He was fun loving, he loved his family and friends. He loved the woods. He loved the Lord so we are not worried about where he's at, but will definitely be missed by me," Threatt said.

The news of his disappearance rallied the community together to help look for him.

Within 48 hours, more than 200 people flooded the church to help with the search.

On Monday, many people searched the woods using ATVs and horses.

A K-9 unit with Foothills Search and Rescue was also involved in the search.

Threatt said the Heath Springs Residential Care Center knew about Cauthen's dementia and Alzheimer's and wishes this could have been prevented.

"I don't want another family to have to go through what we've been through," Threatt said.

Heath Springs Residential Care Center issued a statement on Cauthen's death:

The Heath Springs Residential Care Center wishes to pass on our condolences and deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Jerry Roscoe Cauthen. It has been reported that Mr. Cauthen was found deceased several miles away from our facility. We want to express our sincere gratitude to law enforcement, family and friends of Mr. Cauthen, and the hundreds of volunteers who all spent the Christmas holiday searching for him. We have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with local law enforcement and state authorities as they continue their investigation. Out of respect for their privacy and the ongoing investigation, we are not providing further information at this time.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office said they are working to determine how and why Cauthen died.

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