by JACOB H. FRIES & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & t seemed like a long shot -- an 18-year-old faking his own death to escape his troubles -- but friends of Kieran Norman wanted to believe it. Then, as days turned to weeks and months, it began to seem like a real possibility.
In May, nearly a month after Norman launched a canoe on the Spokane River and vanished, The Inlander published a lengthy story examining lingering questions around his death. And in June, still without word of him, a friend wrote on Norman's MySpace page: "Please come back. I miss you."
The mystery surrounding Norman was solved on Saturday when a man living on Riverside Park Drive spotted the teen's body in the water and called authorities. It was about four miles down river from the Bowl and Pitcher, a treacherous stretch of water where Norman started his trip on April 18.
One of the reasons some suspected Norman might be on the run was because he was looking at jail time. Accused of rape, his trial was scheduled to start in May. Meanwhile, his life had seemed to follow a downward spiral in the months prior. He tried to commit suicide. He told friends he needed to leave and start over. His moods swayed between extremes.
On Jan. 27, he wrote on his MySpace page, "I'm lost and I cannot find a way out of it. ... I have held back so much because I have been afraid and now I want to move on."
When he put the canoe in the river, he had a lifejacket in the boat, but never put it on, a friend who helped him launched the boat later told authorities. Norman's family didn't report the episode until the next day -- a fact that further fueled conspiracy theories.
The search in April was ultimately called off after rescuers found no sign of Norman. Divers did not go into the water because of bad conditions -- a powerful current fed by melting snow and poor visibility. The water was 36 degrees.
An autopsy was planned to determine the precise cause of Norman's death. A sheriff's official this week noted that people who drown in cold water often aren't found until the water warms, which causes a body to rise.