Body of Libertyville veteran missing since Dec. 1 found

The search for a Libertyville resident and Iraq War veteran who has been missing since Dec. 1 reached a tragic end Friday.

The body of 30-year-old Dan Nerstrom was found around 10 a.m. alongside railroad tracks south of Lake Minear near Oak Spring Road, according to Nerstrom's father, Douglas.

A news release from the Libertyville Police Department said officers responded to a report of a body found alongside the Metra railroad tracks east of the downtown Libertyville Metra station. Officers found the body just north of the tracks, approximately a quarter-mile east of the train station.

The Lake County coroner's office took possession of the body, which was identified as that of Daniel Nerstrom. The cause of death has not been determined and is being investigated by the police department and the coroner's office, and there is no reason to suspect foul play, the release said.

While police did not comment further Friday night, Douglas Nerstrom said his son took his own life.

"It was self-inflicted," he said. "It is public knowledge he walked away with a firearm."

Nerstrom graduated from Libertyville High School in 2002 and served in the U.S. Army from September 2003 to January 2009. He was deployed to Iraq from February 2005 to February 2006 as a scout in the 3rd Armored Regiment.

Nerstrom had been trying to set up an appointment with a therapist through the Department of Veterans Affairs since October, but it had been pushed back several times, his girlfriend, Amanda Tiffany, told the Daily Herald in December.

"His (post-traumatic stress disorder) is really what set this whole thing off," she said at the time. "There are certain anniversaries of the war and it kicks in; he gets nightmares."

Douglas Nerstrom said Friday he would like his son to be remembered "as a good kid."

"He never caused any problems. But unfortunately after his service in the Army and his tour in Iraq, he came back kind of messed up with all this head trauma and PTSD," he said.

Nerstrom said his son was deployed in the Baghdad area in Iraq.

Nerstrom said nothing has been set up as far as donations are concerned, but he expects there will be a call for donations to the cause of veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries.

He said the family had hope after hearing of leads that his son may have been seen in Wichita.

But it turned out he had been in Libertyville since the night he went missing.

"He walked three blocks from his house, and that was that," Nerstrom said.

Tiffany and Dan Nerstrom had been together more than two years and were raising her 4-year-old son, Austin, together. "It's been really, really difficult," Tiffany said in December.

A Facebook page, "Bring Home Dan Nerstrom," was set up, with pictures of Dan and his family and updates on the search.

"Dan Nerstrom is missing and possibly distraught," a flier posted to the page read. "He lost friends while serving in Iraq and was forced to retire from the Army in 2009 due to a severe back injury and brain trauma that makes him lightheaded and confused at times. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, but he's not violent toward others."

Family and friends also set up a fundraising website to help Nerstrom get mental health care outside the VA in the event he was found.

• Daily Herald staff writer Melissa Silverberg contributed to this report.

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