Hikers, hunters asked to keep a lookout for bodies in rural areas

Families plead 'keep eyes open' for the missing

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Law enforcement officials are asking any hikers or hunters heading out to rural areas to keep a lookout for bodies. Their added vigilance could bring solace to the families of the missing.

In January, it was a hiker who found the body of John Schultz in Kessler Park. He was from Joplin.

And in June, two men who were canoeing found the remains of Christopher Porter along the Little Blue River. The mentally disabled man had been missing for months.

Judy Courtney calls police every time she hears one of those stories.

"It has been torture," she said of the mystery still surrounding her sister's disappearance.

Carol Thompson hasn't been seen since June 15. Her cellphone, medicine and wallet were all left behind. The woman who has difficulty walking somehow vanished.

There are no leads.

Judy is prepared for the worst.

"We have on occasion had situations where people out in the woods or rural areas have found bodies," said Jeff Weber of the Cass County Sheriff's Office.

Cass County, like so many others around Kansas City, has a large rural area that can't possibly be searched thoroughly. Weber says if any hikers or hunters see something that doesn't fit, they shouldn't hesitate to call.

"We've dealt with situations in the past where we've had bones, we've had them analyzed, and they turned out animals," he said. "We were always more thankful that they weren't bodies but we took the opportunity to go through the process to determine that."

Though a grisly discovery, it could bring solemn closure to grieving families.

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