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POSTED AT 4:51 PM EDT ON 22/08/06

Body found in river that of missing honours student: family

Canadian Press

Choking back intense grief, the father and brother of missing university student Robert Barrington Leigh announced Tuesday that police had found the young man's lifeless body in the river following a massive search.

With the pain of the loss etched deep in his face, John Barrington Leigh, Robert's father, thanked hundreds of volunteers who helped look for his son.

"I just have to hope that every community, when something like this happens, has the benefit from support at this level that we've had," he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

Hundreds of volunteers had been searching for the 20-year-old math and physics whiz, who studied at the University of Toronto, in the ravines and streets of Edmonton for more than a week.

They distributed more than 25,000 flyers in Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver and set up a website.

The family took some solace in that outpouring of help from friends and complete strangers.

"I know a lot of people have been following this, and pouring their hearts into it, and we just wanted to share the news immediately," said Chris Barrington Leigh, 32, Robert's brother.

Police said the body was found in the North Saskatchewan River, in downtown Edmonton, with identification belonging to Robert, who was visiting family when he disappeared Aug. 13.

No foul play was suspected, police spokeswoman Lisa Lammi said in a release.

The body was discovered by men working in a jet boat for the Edmonton water and sanitation department, she said.

An autopsy was scheduled for Wednesday.

The family confirmed the death on the website and scheduled a vigil in a riverside park Tuesday night to express their appreciation "for the amazing outpouring of support this week."

Barrington Leigh, who had already won several international math and physics competitions, was on a summer visit when he vanished after telling his parents he was taking his bike to check out the closing night of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.

His last known communication was a brief text message he sent to his girlfriend Lucy Zhang in Italy at 11:34 p.m. that night.

"Good morning! I'm out at the moment so I can't call. Good luck on your mid-term and fondue."

There was no further activity on his cell phone records and his credit cards weren't used.

His disappearance baffled his family, who initially suspected foul play.

They pointed out the young man was friendly and happy, and never spoke of suicide or depression. His friends echoed that assessment.

His father said the family didn't want to talk about what could have led to his son's death.

"Nobody knows anything more than that we've found the body, so it's not a question that we know what's behind the file, that's still an open investigation," he said.

With files from CTV Edmonton, Global

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