Donald Gildersleeve

Donald Gildersleeve


VALPARAISO — The Valparaiso man whose body was found behind an elementary school Thursday morning died from natural heart-related causes, the Porter County Coroner announced Friday. 

An autopsy was performed Friday morning on Donald Gildersleeve, 59.

Police had been searching for Gildersleeve since he was reported missing Dec. 31.

Valparaiso police and members of the Porter County coroner's office responded about 8:30 a.m. Thursday to the area behind Horizon Bank and Flint Lake Elementary School off North Calumet Avenue and Burlington Beach Road.

The body was discovered by an employee of Horizon Bank, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris said.

Gildersleeve, who lived on his own with the assistance of the community mental health center Porter-Starke Services, and who required daily medications, last was seen around noon or 1 p.m. Dec. 30 at the Burger King at 2921 Calumet Ave., in Valparaiso.

Gildersleeve's body was identified through identification in his possession.

Last week, police and firefighters searched a 70-acre area north of Vale Park Road and east of Valparaiso Street, an area he was known to walk, in an attempt to locate Gildersleeve.

A statewide Silver Alert said Gildersleeve was believed to be in "extreme danger."

Harris said it appears the body had been there a while.

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Public safety reporter

Lauren covers breaking news, crime and courts for The Times. She previously worked at The Herald-News in Joliet covering government, public policy, and the region’s heroin epidemic. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting.