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Coroner: Legendary Bay Area Radio Host Likely Died Of Exposure

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Retired Bay Area broadcast legend Ray Taliaferro, whose body was found in the woods in Paducah, Kentucky, likely died from exposure to the elements, the coroner announced late Tuesday night.

In a late night news release, the Paducah police department said foul play had been ruled out in his death.

"An autopsy was conducted today at the Regional Crime Lab in Madisonville," the statement said. "A report has not been finalized, but exposure to the elements may have been a factor in the California man's death."

Taliaferro, a legendary Bay Area journalist for KGO radio went missing last month in Kentucky. 

He and his wife of six months -- Charlotte Crawford -- were visiting a property she had inherited in Brookport, Illinois. Police and a family spokesperson both said that Taliaferro and Crawford were preparing to leave the property in a rental car together, when she went to the rear of the house to check on a window.

When she returned, the car and Taliaferro, who may have been suffering from memory issues, were gone. A search was launched in Illinois and nearby states.

His body was found Sunday evening in a "wooded area approximately a mile from where he was last seen," a family statement said.

Taliaferro was a broadcasting trailblazer, the first African-American major market radio talk show host in the country.

Surveillance video that surfaced last week of Taliaferro on the evening of November 10th, when he knocked on the door of a church in Paducah and spoke to the music director.

The video shows him talking for about 15 or 20 minutes.

Award-winning journalist Bryan Monroe, a friend of Taliaferro's family, spoke to the church music director seen in the video with Taliaferro who told him the retired radio host seemed confused.

"He seemed a little disoriented, but explained who he was; he said that he was a prominent San Francisco Bay Area radio host and was very talkative," said Monroe.

"He tended to repeat himself a few times. They stood by the door and chatted for a bit. And then he left at 5:01 p.m. on Saturday, Nov 10. That was the last time Taliaferro was seen."

Taliaferro was a leading voice among progressives and often focused on political issues affecting the U.S. and the state of California on his talk show. His family told authorities he had become forgetful lately.

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