In the community, Local government

Juntura missing person case takes strange turn

UPDATE: The Malheur County Sheriff’s Office deployed about 20 searchers to the Juntura area, Monday, June 17, in the third search bid to find Eric Westfall, 50, of Kirkland, Wash.

VALE – The vehicle of a man missing near Juntura since mid-April was found in Colorado late last month with a dead body inside and police in three states are now trying to untangle the case.

“Oh, it’s weird. There just far too many pieces missing,” said Dave Kesey, Malheur County undersheriff.

The silver Nissan Xterra vehicle owned by Eric Westfall, 50, of Kirkland, Wash., was found in Archuleta County Colo. in late May. Inside was the body of Shaun Salsman, said Kesey.

Westfall has been missing since mid-April and was last seen at the Juntura Hot Springs.

Kesey did not have an age or a hometown for Salsman or know his cause of death. He declined to comment regarding whether Salsman had prior criminal record.

Kesey said when Westfall’s vehicle was identified, Colorado police informed the Kirkland, Wash., police department who then updated the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office.

Last month, said Kesey, a local rancher discovered an abandoned Dodge pickup in the Juntura area and Kesey said the vehicle may or may not be connected Westfall’s disappearance.

The discovery of Salsman, triggered a search around the Juntura Hot Springs by the sheriff’s office May 31. No sign of Westfall was found.

 “We are trying to get some facts together on Salsman. How he came into possession of the vehicle. We just don’t have a lot of information yet,” said Kesey.

Kesey said he wants to talk to the detective in Colorado overseeing the Salsman case but the detective is on vacation. Kesey said the police agencies in Colorado, Washington and the sheriff’s office will soon convene to sort out more details.

Kesey said the sheriff’s office plans to launch another search of the Juntura area next week.

Kesey said he does not know if Salsman was camping with Westfall when he disappeared.

Westfall was last heard from on April 17 when he made contact by cell phone with his mother from the hot springs near Juntura where he was camping.

After Westfalls’ father contacted the sheriff’s office, a search was conducted May 6 between Juntura and the town of Westfall.

Kesey said at the time deputies and search and rescue crews covered more than 1,000 miles in search of Westfall but did not find any sign of the man. The search for Westfall was suspended May 15.

Westfall is five-foot-10 inches tall and weighs 200 pounds. He had with him a dog with three legs named Tripper.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

UPDATE: Sheriff’s office pauses search for missing Washington state man

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