UPDATE: MU research fellow was 'genius of the family'

Thursday, March 24, 2011 | 12:58 p.m. CDT; updated 9:15 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 24, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia police confirmed Wednesday afternoon that an MU research fellow, who had been reported missing, was found dead.

The Missouri State Highway Patrol found the body of Norman "Paul" Nolen, 27, inside his car on the Interstate 70 exit ramp at Midway.


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Erik Eidson, drug and crime control public information officer for the Missouri State Highway Patrol, said that the investigation was still ongoing but that Nolen's death appeared to be a suicide.

Nolen, of Memphis, Tenn., was a research fellow in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. He was last seen Saturday and had not reported to work since that time. His family reported him missing to Columbia police on Monday.

His family was in Columbia searching for him, said Marcus Jones, his cousin. Jones called Nolen the "genius of the family."

"He never wanted to be the center of attention," Jones said. "He was a stand-up guy. Anything that anybody needed from him, he would give it to them."

Nolen cared about his family deeply. He showed his love for his family by getting the names of his nephews and niece tattooed on his back. Jones and Nolen were very close.

"Norman spent more time at my house than I did," he said.

Nolen attended Tuskegee University as an undergraduate and then the University of Tennessee-Knoxville before coming to Columbia.

"He had the fortitude to stick with becoming a veterinarian," Jones said.

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