His body was found in the White River on October 22, 2012 near the area where he disappeared. His phone was recovered in the bushes at the top of the river bank several weeks later.
His mother believes foul play was involved.
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Search, Recovery & Investigation
Twenty-three year old Walton "Matt" Ward, who was visiting Indiana from California, told his mother, Julie Kvinge, that he planned to go on a date with a girl he'd met on Cupid.com. His mother dropped him off outside of Peppers Bar on Friday, October 12, 2012, and Ward was seen on surveillance video at the bar. The owner of the bar, Mike Stancombe, confirmed to the Coastline Pilot that Ward was at the bar for nearly an hour before leaving on his own, and that he never met anyone at the bar while he was there.
Kvinge received a call from her son called her at 10:30 p.m. that night saying he was doing fine. It was the last time she heard from him, and he did not come home.
On October 22, 2012, Ward's body was recovered from the White River near 64th and Westfield Boulevard near the Broad Ripple area where he disappeared. At the time of the recovery, police stated they did not suspect foul play, and that they were waiting on toxicology results before determining a cause of death.
Kvinge told the Coastline Pilot that she couldn't understand how her son ended up in the water, noting that he was a good swimmer and "lived life to the fullest."
According to Fox59.com, Ward was also seen on surveillance video at the bar, Mine Shaft, on the night he disappeared, and Kvinge has learned that her son was last seen at Land Sharks bar. There was no surveillance video from Land Sharks to provide additional clues, but witnesses told her Ward was escorted out around 1:20 a.m. by a bouncer.
"I think it’s critical that we talk to that bouncer and establish what was going on, who he was with, why he was escorted out of the bar,” Kvinge told Fox59.com. “We are yet to know anything.”
At 1:30 a.m. on October 13, ten minutes after being removed from the bar, a 911 call was placed from Ward's phone that lasted only one second. Detectives traced the call back to a cell phone tower in Broad Ripple. It was the last call made on Ward's phone.
The phone itself was recovered in Broad Ripple several weeks later. Someone found it in the bushes at the top of the river bank near Applebee’s and turned it in to police.
"It wasn’t down next to the water," Kvinge told Fox59, "so someone had to have taken that phone from him. He was trying to make a 911 call to truly ask for help and somehow someone cut that call short."
In December 2012, authorities ruled that Ward's death was accidental and that he had died of asphyxia due to drowning. Kvinge told Fox59 that detectives never told her about the ruling, and she added that too many questions still remained unanswered.
“Someone knows what happened,” Kvinge said. "I am convinced that someone murdered my son,” she stated.
Kvinge has started a Facebook page called “Justice for Walton “Matt” Ward,” and she says she won’t stop pushing for answers.
“I can’t bring Walton back,” Kvinge told Fox59. “But I can try to get justice for him and I can also try to prevent this from happening to another young man.”
WARD, Walton Walton Matthew Ward, age 23, formerly of Alpharetta, passed away October 23, 2012. He was born November 23, 1988 in Tucson, AZ and moved to Alpharetta in 1989. Walton was a graduate of Independence High School and was studying Nutritional Science at Diablo Valley University, CA. He was known for his magnetic personality, strong will and ambition and was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Ann & Allan Ward. He is survived by his father, Walton L. Ward; mother, Julie A. Kvinge; sister, Lauren E. Ward; half-sisters, Tamera K. Galvin and Staci A. Ward; maternal grandparents, Wilma & Roy B. Ledbetter; uncle & aunt, Allan & Marie Ward, Jr.; honorary aunt, Colleen H. Callihan and other extended family. Memorial services will be held 1:00PM, November 10, 2012 at SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society, 2260 Old Milton Pkwy., Alpharetta, GA 30009. Please express condolences at www.southcare.us. Arrangements by SouthCare Cremation & Funeral Society in Alpharetta. (678) 735-5500. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 8, 2012.)
Erdahl, Kent. (2012, October 24). Mother, coroner, confirm unidentified body found in Broad Ripple is missing man. Coastline Pilot. Retrieved December 1, 2012 from http://www.coastlinepilot.com/news/wxin-missing-broad-ripple-indianapolis-man-walt-ward-mother-says-unidentified-body-found-in-broad-ripple-20121023,0,3291230.column
Fox59 Web Team. (2012, December 14). Mother of Broad Ripple drowning victim considers private investigator. Fox59.com. Retrieved April 17, 2013 from http://fox59.com/news/stories/walton-wood-broad-ripple-drowning/#axzz2QgleBdBa
Obituary. (2012, November 8). Walton Ward. Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 16, 2013 from http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/atlanta/obituary.aspx?pid=160925670#fbLoggedOut