PEOPLE Explains: Body of Utah Blogger's Husband Found in Creek Weeks After He Went Missing
Paul Swenson was last seen leaving his home in American Fork, Utah, and told family members he had an appointment in Salt Lake City
On Sunday, the laborious search for Paul Swenson ended tragically when his lifeless body was found floating in a Utah creek.
Mystery continues to surround the new father’s disappearance. The story made national headlines: Swenson’s wife, Ashlee Swenson, runs a popular style and design blog that also chronicles her life as a mother to their young daughter.
Here are five things you need to know about the 30-year-old man who police have said went missing “under suspicious circumstances.”
1. Swenson Made Little Sense When Speaking to Relatives Before Vanishing
Investigators have said Swenson, who had a history of mental illness, made very little sense when he spoke to relatives hours before disappearing on July 27. He was reported missing later that day by his wife.
Swenson was last seen leaving his home in American Fork, Utah, and told family members he had an appointment in Salt Lake City, about 30 minutes away. But American Fork police believe he never showed up to the appointment.
Ashlee used her Internet presence, including more than 67,000 Instagram followers, to amplify the story of her husband’s disappearance. “We need help!” she wrote on July 28 alongside a missing-persons flyer for Swenson.
2. Police Deemed His Disappearance ‘Suspicious’ After Finding His Car
The morning after he was last seen, police found Swenson’s car — a black 2016 BMW X6 — near an elementary school in Salt Lake City’s Glendale neighborhood.
Inside the vehicle, police discovered several items they said belong to someone else, leading them to speculate he vanished “under suspicious circumstances.”
Among those items were clothing family members claim is not his, a pair of backpacks and a bottle of alcohol.
A GoFundMe campaign launched to help fund continuing search efforts and help Swenson’s wife and daughter raise nearly $16,000.
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3. Family Members Held Out Hope Swenson Was Still Alive
In posts to Facebook pages created to help find him, Swenson’s relatives expressed their strong belief the new dad was still alive.
“Paul is alive and will come home to us safely,” reads one such post, which goes on to thank everyone “who has searched, prayed, shared, and kept faith and hope in your hearts for a good outcome for Paul and our family.”
It is unknown at this point how long Swenson was dead before his body was found; but police say the investigation into what happened to him remains open and active.
4. Foul Play Ruled Out By Medical Examiner
Swenson’s body was found floating in Mill Creek in South Salt Lake, Utah, about 4 p.m. on Sunday, about 30 miles from his home, according to investigators. Before his cell phone was turned off, police were able to track it to that very area.
At this point, the cause and manner of his death have not been released, as the results of toxicology tests are still pending. The medical examiner has, however, ruled out foul play as contributing to Swenson’s death.
“We are deeply pained to have our most dreaded fear confirmed,” Ashlee wrote on Instagram on Monday, after learning of Paul’s death. “We have been working with law enforcement closely over the past weeks as they search for answers. Thank you for your prayers for Paul and our whole family. We are asking for privacy as our family takes the time to absorb this tragic news and to mourn.”
PEOPLE has been unable to reach Ashlee or any members of Swenson’s family.
5. Swenson’s Friend: ‘This is Not the Outcome We Were Anticipating’
According to friends, Swenson’s funeral has been scheduled Friday, August 18, at 12:00 p.m. at the Alpine North Stake Center in Alpine, Utah.
There will be a “Celebration of Life” on both Friday morning from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. prior to the service and also Thursday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Warnenski Funeral Home in American Fork, Utah.
Reached this week, friends of the Swensons tell PEOPLE the family has asked for privacy at this time, as they are dealing with “tremendous grief,” one says.
Offers another friend: “This is not the outcome we were anticipating.”