In the community, Local government

Third search finds no clues to fate of missing Washington state man

JUNTURA – The case of Eric Westfall is becoming stranger as police in three states try to untangle a mystery that involves his disappearance and the discovery of a dead man in his car in Colorado last month.

Westfall was last heard from in mid-April near Juntura Hot Springs. Since then, the sheriff’s office conducted three searches – including one Monday, June 17 – in the area but found no sign of the Kirkland, Wash., man.

After the most recent search, which involved more than 20 people and cadaver dogs, Malheur County Sheriff Travis Johnson revealed new details from the investigation.

Johnson said some of what is believed to be Westfall’s camping equipment – including fishing gear – was found beside a road above the hot springs and down in a nearby draw.

“It was just kind of like it was thrown out as you were going down the road. I find that odd,” said Johnson.

Westfall’s vehicle, a silver Nissan Xterra, was found in Archuleta County, Colorado, last month. Inside was the body of Shaun Salsman, 41.

Johnson said Salsman died of natural causes.

Johnson said Westfall and Salsman had been camping together at the hot springs.

Also, last month, a local rancher discovered an abandoned Dodge pickup in the Juntura area near where Westfall was last believed to have been but whether it is connected to Westfall’s disappearance is not known.

However, Johnson said the all seats except the driver’s seat in the pickup were missing. Searchers later found the seats in a nearby draw.

Johnson said the missing seats and the scattered equipment “might mean something and it might not.”

The latest search covered more than 10 square miles from Juntura to Beulah Reservoir.

For now, the search for Westfall is paused until the sheriff’s office deploys drones in the area sometime in the next few weeks.

Johnson called the case “perplexing.”

“We don’t really know if we are even searching in the right place,” said Johnson.

Westfall is 5-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

Juntura missing person case takes strange turn

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