Man's body found near river

HUGHSON -- Brian Peeper loved the outdoors, spending hours walking along the river and listening to birds.

The developmentally disabled Modesto man, 41, disappeared Monday evening during a family outing at Fox Grove Fishing Access on the Tuolumne River. Stanislaus County sheriff's deputies found his body Tuesday morning, still wearing the life vest he always had on during his walks along the river.

Peeper's family reported him missing about 8:30 p.m. after looking for him for two hours. Peeper had the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, family members said.

Deputies and Hughson firefighters, with help from AirMed and sheriff's helicopters, looked for Peeper on Monday until darkness fell. Searchers returned to the area at 7:48 a.m. Tuesday, using boats to search the Tuolumne River area.

They found Peeper's body, concealed by plants along the shore, about 9 a.m. near the access boat ramp.

The cause of death had not been determined Tuesday, sheriff's Capt. Tim Beck said. "The detectives are not suspecting foul play," he said.

Family members said Peeper loved nature, spending much of his time outside. He also was a Special Olympics athlete, bowling several games with scores of more than 200.

"He would go on long walks every single day," said his sister Paula Fachner. "He was very used to walking around the river."

Peeper enjoyed pulling cans and abandoned lures from the river to keep them from endangering the fish.

"Brian was an incredibly tender, loving soul," Peeper's twin sister Becky Peeper said Tuesday.

"He thought that he could understand what the animals could say to him, and the fish said they didn't like the cans in the water.

"He said to me if we all listened to the birds and we looked up instead of down there wouldn't be so many bad things happening in this world."

A funeral service is scheduled at 1 p.m. Sunday at Salas Brothers Funeral Chapel, 419 Scenic Drive.

Investigators ask anyone with information about the incident to call Detective Frank Soria at 525-7080.

Bee city editor Patty Guerra can be reached at or 578-2343.