Autopsy inconclusive in missing Naperville man’s death

Jordan Michael Baznik, 23, of Naperville
Jordan Michael Baznik, 23, of Naperville

An autopsy performed Monday on the body of a Naperville man who went missing earlier this month in South Dakota did not determine the cause or manner of his death.

Custer County, S.D. Coroner Jim Sanders said autopsy results were “inconclusive” in the case of Jordan M. Baznik, 23, of the far west-central part of Naperville.

Sanders said authorities are now awaiting the results of toxicological testing on Baznik’s body. Those results are not likely to be known for three to six weeks, he said.

Baznik was a 2009 graduate of Naperville Central High School and a 2013 graduate of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, where he was vice president of the student electronic music club.

He vanished Aug. 6 while on a road trip with three friends from Illinois, in what Custer County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Stephen McMillin on Monday characterized as being “kind of a unique case.”

Baznik and his companions were going to attend a music festival or concert in Canada by way of Washington state, McMillin said. They drove first to the Black Hills of South Dakota, intent on seeing Mount Rushmore, he said.

McMillin said it was his understanding Baznik’s friends told authorities in nearby Pennington County, S.D. that Baznik’s “emotions were all over the place” during that first phase of their travels. His companions reported “one minute he’d be happy, and then next minute he’d be crying,” McMillin said.

When the group stopped at a hotel in Keystone, S.D., Baznik reportedly told his friends he “didn’t like the smell of the towels in the hotel,” and went out to his red, 2014 Mazda 5 to retrieve one of his own. McMillin said that was the last anyone saw of him.

Custer County authorities on Aug. 12 found the abandoned Mazda near Camp Remington Road, and later discovered Baznik’s identification and some of his clothing near a makeshift encampment. They then organized ground and air searches for him.

Searchers late Friday afternoon found Baznik’s body about one-half to three-quarters of a mile north of the Iron Creek Centennial Trailhead in the Black Elk Wilderness. McMillin said that is 25 to 30 miles from where Baznik disappeared, if local roadways are used.

No signs of foul play were found on Baznik’s body, and authorities said hypothermia appeared to have caused or contributed to his death.

McMillin declined to comment on how, or if, Baznik was dressed when his body was discovered. He said it appeared Baznik had tried to collect rainwater by digging a small ditch or hole in the area where he died.

He added there was “no indication of (Baznik) having been on any medication” during his travels or at the time of his death.

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