The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office issued a retraction Friday, saying it misidentified a dead man found in Santa Rosa Creek Monday.
Based on the mistaken identification from the Sheriff’s Office, The Press Democrat published stories Wednesday online and Thursday in the newspaper misidentifying the man as Kenneth David Anderson, 57.
The county coroner’s office later realized the body was not Anderson’s, the Sheriff’s Office said Friday. Authorities have notified Anderson’s family in Iowa about the error and will be attempting to locate Anderson to advise him of the mistake.
“This identification was made from visual confirmation by a peace officer who has arrested Anderson on prior occasions. We received fingerprint results back today (Friday) identifying the decedent as someone different than Mr. Anderson,” according to a prepared statement. “This was a human error and we apologize for our mistake.”
The correct identity of the dead man has been confirmed by authorities and his name will be released publicly after his family is notified, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Crum said Friday in an interview.
Crum explained how the mistaken identity was made.
“Santa Rosa Police Department investigated it, and one of the officers on scene said I recognize this guy,” he said. “We took his visual identity as a fact and we made the mistake by not confirming the fingerprints before we released the name to the press.”
Crum said the coroner’s office compared a booking photo of Anderson with a photo of the dead man, which convinced them the two were the same person. Standard operating procedure requires “biological identification” before a deceased person’s name is released to the public, Crum said, and the Sheriff’s Office will continue to follow that procedure.
“This is a one-off. For whatever reason, someone made a mistake,” Crum said. “We apologize for the mistake.”
You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Beale at 707-521-5205 or at email@example.com. On Twitter @iambeale.