Body identified as missing South Point teen

Published 2:45 pm Wednesday, June 21, 2023

The search for a South Point teen missing since April came to an unhappy end with Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless announcing on Wednesday that a body found in the Ohio River has been confirmed to be Darrien Otta.


The case started on April 8, when the sheriff’s office got a report of 15-year-old runaway juvenile male. During the investigation, the sheriff’s office spoke with Otta’s friends at Dawson-Bryant High School and searched the area and woods around Otta’s home with no sign of Otta being found.

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Investigators collected items of evidence, including cellular phones for cell phone data extraction in an attempt to locate the missing boy.


On April 27, the Ceredo Kenova Police Department, along with the Kenova Police Department of West Virginia, discovered the deceased body of an unidentified male in the Ohio River in the area of Twelve Pole Creek. 


The body was sent to the West Virgina Medical Examiner’s Office in Charleston, West Virginia for cause of death and identification.


DNA was collected from Otta’s grandmother/guardian and his dental records were obtained from a dentist’s office.


The grandmother and sheriff’s office used the assistance of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to assist in the investigation and identification of the body from Kenova. 


On Wednesday, the forensic odontologist with NCMEC positively identified the body found in Kenova, West Virginia as being Darrien Otta.


Lawless said his office was advised that West Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office examination did not show any signs of foul play to the body.


I would like to express my sincere condolences to the family of Darrien Otta. You are in our prayers,” Lawless said. “I would also like to thank the help from the Kenova Police Department and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children for going above and beyond in helping give the family closure.”