East Falls Man Drowns In Schuylkill

Posted: July 27, 1987

A mildly retarded East Falls man who friends said liked to dress as a policeman drowned in the Schuylkill over the weekend, police said.

The body of William Osterman, 47, of the 4000 block of Ridge Avenue, was spotted by two young boys about 4:20 p.m. yesterday.

Police said Osterman, a lifelong resident of East Falls who was known in the neighborhood as "Sarge," was last seen about 7 p.m. Saturday carrying a fishing rod, a bottle of wine and a bottle of whiskey.

Police said Osterman either jumped or fell from the wall along Kelly Drive at Midvale Avenue and drowned. An autopsy was scheduled for today. Police said they did not believe the death was suspicious.

"He really was a good-hearted person," said Joseph Cafferty, a friend of Osterman's, whose father rented a room to Osterman. "He used to say things like, 'I'm disgusted. I wish I wasn't here.' On Saturday, he told my father, 'If it gets too rough, I'll just take the river.' "

Cafferty said Osterman left the rooming house about two weeks ago and went to live with his wife, who is also retarded, on the porch of a nearby vacant home. "His rent's still paid up," Cafferty said. "He just said, 'I'd rather be with Theresa.' "

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