Missing 29-Year-Old Father’s Body Found in River

By Zachary Stieber

The body of a missing Michigan man was found in a river late May 14, authorities said.

The body of Jeff Scarbrough, 29, was located inside of his vehicle, which was in the Muskegon River.

Capt. Clint Holt of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety told The Grand Haven Tribune that officials received a tip that prompted them to search the area around the Creston Road Public Boat Launch. They used a drone to locate the vehicle in the water before a dive team went to the vehicle and retrieved the body.

“I can’t really speculate as to why he was here,” Holt said.

A person who lives in the area said that he saw the vehicle go down a nearby dirt road on Saturday but didn’t think of it at the time. He said he was the one to tip-off the police.

Scarbrough went missing on May 11.

The investigation is continuing and an autopsy is planned.

Family members said Scarbrough was last heard from when he was on his way to pick up his son after leaving a golf course near the boat launch.

Family members said it wasn’t likely for Scarbrough to disappear.

“He doesn’t have any mental issues or any, he don’t never disappear,” his father Roy Scarbrough told Fox 17. “He’s very reliable and any time there’s anything that bothers him, I’m the first one to get the call.”

“When it comes to getting his son, there is nothing in this world that means more to him,” Ina Terwilliger, Scarbrough’s longtime best friend, added to WOOD-TV.

Multiple groups had been searching for the missing man in the area, including around Fruitport and Egelston.

“As much as it feels like a needle in a haystack and what could’ve possibly happened because this is unlike him, at the same time, he has so many people that love him and he has a community of people that we’re going to do everything in our power and if that’s something we can be doing right now, then we’re going to do it,” Terwilliger said.

Missing Persons

Over 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System. Many of the missing adults and children are found safe but others are never found or are found dead. “It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year,” the center stated. As of Jan. 22, there were 15,325 open missing person cases in addition to 12,449 open unidentified person cases.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, the National Crime Information Center had over 88,000 active missing person cases across the country. But hundreds of thousands of cases were resolved that year. Approximately 651,000 missing person records were entered but about the same number were removed.

“Reasons for these removals include: a law enforcement agency located the subject, the individual returned home, or the record had to be removed by the entering agency due to a determination that the record is invalid,” the center stated.

The first 72 hours in a missing person case is the most critical, according to criminology experts. It’s imperative to obtain information through leads before people start to forget about potentially crucial details, Dr. Bryanna Fox, former FBI agent and criminology professor at the University of South Florida, told ABC News.

“The information that law enforcement gets tends to be a little more accurate, and they are able to act on the information and hopefully get that person who is missing quicker,” Fox said. Later, there are fewer “bread crumbs,” or leads, to follow.

Dr. Michelle Jeanis, a criminology professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said that time is an important factor because the missing person could be in danger.

After about a week, the person could very likely be dead, said former FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Gomez. “There’s a certain point after about a week or two where you have to think, the potential that the missing person is dead and now it’s a matter of trying to find their body and bring closure to the family and to determine if you now have a homicide investigation, or suicide, or some kind of accidental death,” he said.