JOPLIN (AP) - Newton County officials say a 51-year-old man drowned in a creek southwest of Joplin.
Sheriff Ken Copeland says a body found Sunday in Shoal Creek was that of Charles E. Oakes of Joplin. He says Oakes apparently drowned but the cause of death won't be confirmed until an autopsy is performed.
Canoeists found the body in the creek on Sunday.
The sheriff says a woman told investigators she fell into the creek and Oakes and another man tried to rescue her. The incident wasn't reported until after Oakes' body was found. Copeland says the friends thought Oakes was playing a prank.
Chief Deputy Chris Jennings said the accounts of the three friends who were with Oakes differed significantly, perhaps because they were intoxicated.