Family Says Memorial Service Will Be Held In Pittsburgh For Dakota


PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The parents of Dakota James, the missing Duquesne University grad student whose body was found on Monday, are thanking the people of Pittsburgh for their support during the long and difficult search for their son.

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James had been missing for six weeks before his body was spotted by a woman out walking her dog by the Ohio River on Monday morning near Neville Island.

WEB EXTRA: James Family Thanks Pittsburgh —

The family held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to offer their thanks to the people of Pittsburgh, what comes next, and to say they will be holding a local memorial service for their son.

“Thank you to the people of Pittsburgh for all of your support,” said a tearful Jeff James, Dakota’s father. “It didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but we’re happy we can bring Dakota home and say a proper goodbye to him.”

The 23-year-old North Side resident was last spotted walking through Katz Plaza in the Cultural District of Downtown Pittsburgh on the night of Jan. 25.

(Source: Pittsburgh Police)

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office says the cause and manner of Dakota’s death will remain undetermined until toxicology tests are completed. Officials say there is no time frame for when those results will be back.

The James family says they will now be going home to Maryland, but say they are not giving up.

“We’re not that type of family, we’re not that type of group, we’re not going to give up until we really know what happened to Dakota,” Dakota’s father said. “We are going to work with the city to try and [improve] their surveillance video, particularly on the bridges. We want to help improve response time and procedures for other missing people cases.”

KDKA’s Bob Allen Reports:

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The family says they are also working with the Calvary United Methodist Church on the city’s North Shore to plan a memorial here in Pittsburgh for Dakota. No date has been set yet for that service.

Dakota’s family also extended thanks to numerous organizations and businesses throughout the Pittsburgh area.

Some of them include Pittsburgh Police, the police departments in Robinson and Ohio townships, the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, river rescue officials, many local fire departments, the state police aviation unit, and the Allegheny Mountain Rescue Group, Westmoreland County Bloodhound Group, as well as the Bring Our Missing Home national organization.

“The hundreds of searchers who came out on the weekends to help us, and during the week on their own time. It’s unbelievable the amount of support we’ve received just from strangers,” said Jeff James. “While this has been incredible difficult for us, we have been strengthened by the people of Pittsburgh.”

Earlier in the day, before the press conference, Pamela James, Dakota’s mother, posted an emotional tribute to her son on Facebook.

Photo Credit: Pamela James/Facebook

“My son is now in the arms of God and those family members who have passed before us and I know he is being well taken care of and is no longer in pain.

“As his mother I will never be able to express in words well enough how much I loved him. From his sweet little baby hands to the wonderful man he was becoming. People who did not have the opportunity to meet him, truly missed out,” she said.

An autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of Dakota’s death.

Police say they will have no further comment on the case until the results of the autopsy are in.

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