A police investigation has found a 20-year-old Grayslake man likely became confused in a subdivision and walked the wrong way as he tried to return home before freezing to death in brush near a small airport last month.
Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko said Wednesday the in-depth probe showed foul play was not involved in the death of Joseph "Joey" Frase. Volunteers found his body near Campbell Airport in Round Lake Park the morning of Jan. 22, about two days after he was last seen alive.
Filenko said the Lake County Major Crime Task Force and other investigators collaborated to learn the chain of events before Frase's death. He met with Frase's family to discuss the now-closed investigation Tuesday.
"It's a tragedy," he said. "I really felt we needed to give the family a biographical background so we could give them closure."
Lake County Coroner Thomas Rudd said Frase died from hypothermia and succumbed to the cold temperature wearing a minimal amount of clothing. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it.
Rudd said tests showed Frase's blood-alcohol level was 0.09 percent, just over the legal threshold of 0.08 percent for drivers. An additional set of tests for the presence of several known hallucinogens came back negative, Filenko said.
Frase started the evening of Saturday, Jan. 19, by walking from his home to meet friends at a downtown Grayslake bar, Filenko said. The chief said Frase was wearing jeans, gym shoes, a couple of T-shirts and a hooded sweatshirt for the short jaunt.
Two cabs were called to the bar after the group decided to attend a birthday party in a house on the 300 block of Highplains Road in Round Lake's Madronna Village subdivision, according to the investigation.
Filenko said Frase was the only one in the group who didn't know the man celebrating the birthday. Frase wasn't at the home long when he went outside to smoke a cigarette and then intended to walk home early in the morning Sunday, Jan. 20.
Investigators learned Frase previously walked to his Grayslake house from Madronna Village, using a path east along Route 120 to Lake Street. It's believed Frase became confused in a maze of subdivision streets and walked in the opposite direction toward Campbell Airport while the temperature dipped to the 20s and winds gusted to 40 mph, Filenko said.
Part of the problem for Frase may have been a lack of defined east-west and north-south streets in Madronna Village, Filenko said.
Frase was found with frozen jeans and what looked like a water line on his T-shirt, Filenko said, and investigators believe he may have fallen into a pond or stream in a wetlands near the airport. Authorities said Frase's body was located deep in the brush.
Filenko said the investigation found Frase received a call on his wireless telephone from a friend at the party about 1:30 a.m. Jan. 20. Frase indicated he was lost and cold near Washington and Lake streets in Grayslake, Filenko said, adding hypothermia was the probable cause for why he was confused about his location.
Those who knew Frase remembered him for his enjoyment of spending time with friends and family, working on his car, playing basketball and fishing.