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VALPARAISO — The body found behind an elementary school Thursday morning has been identified as Donald Gildersleeve, 59, of Valparaiso.

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 of North Calumet Avenue and Burlington Beach Road.

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

Police have been searching for Gildersleeve since he was reported missing Dec. 31, according to a news release from Valparaiso police Sgt. Mike Grennes.

Police received a report of a person laying on the ground just southeast of the intersection. When they arrived, they located the body, Grennes said.

Gildersleeve was identified through identification in his possession. No foul play is suspected at this time, and police continue to investigate. 

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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., Valparaiso.

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.

Gildersleeve was transported to Porter Regional Hospital for further examination and an autopsy, Harris said. The cause and manner of death are pending the autopsy and toxicology.

Check back at nwi.com for updates to this story.

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.