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Ben Rodgers and Katie Ryan, Forum Communications Co., Published May 11 2010

Body of missing Kensal man found

FOSTER COUNTY, N.D. – The body of a missing Kensal man was discovered Monday morning, officials said, almost two weeks after the 26-year-old was reported missing.

Authorities had searched the James River and surrounding area about 10 miles northwest of Kensal for Joshua Blahna every day since April 27, said Mike Tufte, Foster County sheriff.

His body refloated Monday, and his family located it about a mile south of Blahna’s mother’s home about 11 a.m.

“Even though its bad news, I’m glad we have an answer,” Tufte said.

Blahna’s shoe was found in the river near his mother’s home April 28. His car was parked near her driveway with a flat tire.

Agencies including the sheriffs’ departments in Foster and Stutsman counties, Kensal, Carrington, New Rockford and Jamestown fire departments, the North Dakota Crime Bureau, Dakota Territory Search Dogs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Border Patrol and the state Game and Fish Department had assisted in the search.

Prior to the body’s discovery, Tufte said he was ready to take a break from searching and that today would have been a volunteer effort.

“This is wearing on everybody; it’s way too much,” Tufte said.

The Facebook group to raise awareness and show support for the Blahna family was originally named “Bring Josh Blahna Home Safe!!” Its name was changed to “RIP Josh Blahna ... you’ll never be forgotten” on Monday.

The group has grown to nearly 1,000 members in the nine days since it was created.

Blahna worked part time farming for his father and also on wind towers. He lived on and off with his mother, his father and with friends in Jamestown.

Tufte said the body had no obvious signs of foul play but was sent to the state medical examiner for an autopsy.

“Nothing is ruled out at this time,” Tufte said.

Arrangements are pending with Evans Funeral Home in Carrington.

Rodgers and Ryan write for the Jamestown Sun, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.