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Jerry Cauthen’s body found

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Missing man's body found off Flint Ridge Road

By Hannah Strong

After days of searching for Jerry Roscoe Cauthen, who walked away from a nursing home in Heath Springs last week, his body was found Wednesday morning in a heavily wooded area off Flint Ridge Road, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office.
Cauthen, 74, died from exposure due to the environment, according to a statement from Lancaster County Chief Deputy Coroner Karla Deese.
Cauthen had been missing since Dec. 23, one day after being checked into Heath Springs Residential Care Center, 614 Hart St.
Cauthen’s son, David Cauthen, said his father suffered from dementia and was nearing Alzheimer’s disease.
The coroner’s office said dementia was a “contributing factor but not the main factor” in Cauthen’s death.
Authorities found his body about two miles from the nursing home, said Lancaster County Sheriff Barry Faile.
“It’s unfortunate that someone could walk off like that and be gone for days and put a strain on the family,” Faile said. “Anytime you have someone with dementia you have got to keep your eyes on these people or have a mechanism on these people so they can be easily located.”
Faile said there have been reports of people going missing from Heath Springs Residential Care Center. He said the sheriff’s office is currently looking into how many.
Faile said the sheriff’s office is investigating how Cauthen left the care center without being seen.
A Thursday call by The Lancaster News to the care center resulted in a hang up by a woman who identified herself as Paula.
Susan Williams, Heath Springs Residential Care Center director, did not return messages before press time.
Deputies, public safety officials in helicopters and between 25 and 100 volunteers daily searched the area for Cauthen after he was reported missing.
Cauthen was a member of Liberty Freewill Baptist Church and previously served as deacon at Camp Creep Baptist Church.
Cauthen is survived by his wife, four sons and six grandchildren.

Follow reporter Hannah Strong on Twitter @HannahLStrong or contact her at (803) 416-8416.