Body in River Identified

Body in River Identified

Potomac doctor last seen March 28.

The body of a missing Potomac man, Dr. Scott Nathan LaBaer, was found in the Potomac river near Pennyfield Lock Saturday afternoon after a three-week search.

LaBaer is survived by his wife Michelle LaBaer and his infant twins. He was 39.

LaBaer was last seen March 28. At 4:30 p.m. he told his wife that he would be returning to the office for 5 and 5:30 appointments. He did not arrive for the appointments and was not seen since. His abandoned car was found on River Road at Petit Way the following day.

LaBaer suffered from depression and the condition is considered a factor in the circumstances of his death.

The body has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Baltimore for routine tests and a toxicology report.

“The circumstances of why he was there still remain a mystery,” said Montgomery County Police spokesman Derek Baliles. “All the medical examiner's office is going to do is help us to see if there was any foul play in the whole thing. At this point no foul play is suspected at all.”

LaBaer’s death appears to have been a suicide.

“Why he ended up there may forever not be fully known,” Baliles said. “But if we can find no evidence of foul play and evidence that he was depressed that points us in one direction.”

Eugene Roesser, a volunteer firefighter and spokesman for Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire and Rescue, is also a friend and co-worker of Michelle LaBaer.

Roesser was first on the scene where LaBaer’s body was spotted by a family canoeing near the Potomac shore at approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Roesser said that in spite of the tragedy of LaBaer’s death, it brings closure to a horrifying three weeks for the family, in which they had anticipated the worst. “I’m just so happy that she has closure on it right now,” he said.

Roesser said that LaBaer had been functioning and apparently happy for a long time but went for psychiatric help about a week before his disappearance.

As a doctor, he might have felt inadequate to help his patients when he needed help himself, Roesser said.

“There’s a big stigma attached to the whole thing,” Roesser said of depression. “I don’t know what all the answers are but I do know that there’s a big problem with depression.”

LaBaer apparently drove to Poolesville and perhaps elsewhere before returning to the area where his car was found. Roesser said it was unclear whether LaBaer truly wanted to commit suicide, even if he did enter the water intentionally.

“It does bring a very sad ending to this story, for the family. We had a lot of hope that perhaps he was still alive somewhere,” Baliles said.

A Jewish memorial service was planned in Virginia Wednesday.