Dwight Clark, an 18-year-old student at the Bellingham, Wash., college was last seen at around 2 a.m. on Sept. 26, leaving a party near campus. Friends said he was heading back to his dormitory about six blocks away, but about 40 minutes later a "phantom" text message -- with no subject or words -- was sent from Clark's phone to another friend. Police later traced it to downtown Bellingham, and had been scouring the area.
A body believed to be Clark's was found by a port worker Wednesday in a downtown lagoon near where dozens of searchers and volunteers had been looking, and about a mile from the where the party he had attended was held.
Clark's driver's license was found on the body, Bellingham Police spokesman Mark Young told KOMO-TV. An official identification from the medical examiner's office won't come until later today, but "there's no reason to believe it's not him," Young told The Seattle Times.
There's no word yet on the cause of death, but Young told AOL News earlier this week that he considered Clark's disappearance "highly suspicious." On Tuesday, someone wrote on a missing poster outside a convenience store that Clark was stabbed 17 times, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. Police are analyzing the handwriting and reviewing the store's surveillance video to try to figure out who wrote it, and whether it's a hoax.
Within hours of the somber discovery, hundreds of students and neighbors gathered downtown for a vigil in Clark's honor.
"Dwight was a kind, sensitive person who is now safe with his father and grandmother," family friend Penni Saum told the crowd, according to KOMO. "The family will continue to search for who's responsible, and we ask for your support during this difficult time, and your sensitivity and your privacy."
"It's just really heartbreaking, especially when it happens in your community," said another mourner, Kristina Nelson, according to the station.
Another candlelight memorial is planned for Saturday in Brannan Skate Park in Clark's hometown of Auburn, Wash., according to a Facebook page with more than 20,700 members, set up to raise awareness of the teen's disappearance. He was an avid skateboarder. "Please if you skate, bring your board. Join us to remember the memory of Dwight Clark," the page reads.
"My heart goes out to dwight's family, friends, and peers. He will be remembered by many," wrote one Facebook user, Kayla Ann Grayson. "I know it's a bit much right now...but think about having a skateboarding event every year in memory of Dwight...you have soooo many people that he has touched," wrote another, Judy Grogan.