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Human remains found during search for Plattsmouth man missing since February 2020

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 9:49 AM CDT
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PLATTSMOUTH, Neb. (WOWT) - Plattsmouth Police told 6 News that “human remains” were discovered Wednesday during the search for a man missing since February 2020.

Dalton Berens, 29, has been missing since Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 — the day after Super Bowl LIV. He is described as a 6-foot-tall white man, weighing 140 pounds, with hazel eyes and brown hair.

PPD Det. Matt Watson and Capt. Ryan Crick confirmed during an update Wednesday afternoon that a body had been found but had no further details about the identity or even the sex of the remains, so Berens is still considered a missing person.

The body and clothing were found Wednesday afternoon in a wooded area about 300 feet from where Berens lived, they said.

“We owe it to the family to get some answers on this,” Crick said.

“Once we exhausted all the leads we thought were best at the time from family and friends and from data that is normal like electronics and bank cards and medical records, we just had to stop and reevaluate,” Watson said after the discovery. “So, rather than give up, we decided to work off a hunch and search this area and you know we did find a body today so we’ll see where that takes us.”

According to a PPD release, he suffers from several medical conditions that require consistent medication and make it difficult for him to walk long distances. Watson said Wednesday his difficulties were noticeable and that sometimes he would use a walker to get around.

Watson says his physical abilities were another reason they decided to search the woods near his home.

“If he did just walk off, and that’s the way it was reported, he walked out of the house and never seen again, then it’s possible he just went into an area very short distance from his home cause that’s all he’s physically capable of,” Watson said before the search began.

“We have no information on whether he’s alive or dead,” Watson said as the search got underway Wednesday morning.

There hasn’t been any activity on his accounts, but authorities have said that doesn’t necessarily mean he is dead. Watson said they received a tip this week that indicated he could still be alive.

Watson said there were several leads that investigators followed up on. On Feb. 11, 2020, shortly after he was reported missing, there were some reports of sightings of him in Omaha, but Watson said they weren’t credible.

Wednesday’s organized search, “conducted by specific individuals arranged by law enforcement,” includes cadaver dogs and their handlers. Watson said there had been an indication from the dog but that a volunteer found the body.

Roughly 20 people from multiple agencies assisted PPD and NSP in the search, including Plattsmouth Fire and Rescue, Cass County Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management Association, and Peru State College forensic science educators and students. Douglas County authorities are also helping to process the scene.

“Right now, we’re going to be at the mercy of science,” Crick said.

PPD and NSP investigators previously told 6 News that they do not suspect foul play.

Watson said Monday that officials have followed up on social media leads, bank account records, and government benefits for disabilities but nothing has been able to bring Berens home so far.

CAN YOU HELP? Anyone with information about Berens’ disappearance or where he might be is asked to contact the police at 402-296-3311. Anonymous tips can be submitted to Nebraska Crimestoppers online, called in at 1-800-422-1494, or sent via the P3 Tips app.

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