Update Jan. 28, 2020. Information about the discovery of the man’s vehicle has been added.
ST. GEORGE — Three men working in eastern Arizona on Thursday discovered the vehicle of a veteran reported missing in August.
Jesse Conger, 37, was last seen Aug. 14 leaving his apartment in Scottsdale, Arizona, leaving behind his phone, wallet, I.D. and service dog. Multiple law enforcement agencies in two states have been working together to locate him.
Conger served as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq, and he has helped search and rescue teams as a diver. He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, which his twin sister, Patricia Conger, originally said she believed was related to this incident. She said her brother “was not in his right state of mind in the days leading up to his disappearance.”
“Jesse rescued people; now he needs to be rescued,” Don Conger, Jesse’s father, told St. George News in September.
Law enforcement found the keys in the ignition Thursday, along with Jesse Conger’s maps and fishing and hunting gear. His pistol was missing from the vehicle, and his family has not been able to confirm if any of his medication, including Xanax or Tramadol, were also found.
The family was initially told that officials would use dogs to attempt to pick up his scent, but law enforcement determined it had been too long and the rain would have washed away any remaining chance of a positive alert to his scent. Officials conducted a 2-mile radial search of the area on foot and have since concluded the search.
“It’s disappointing, but everything has been so far,” Patricia Conger wrote in a statement following the news.
Conger’s family is working to find search dogs, most specifically cadaver dogs, but are keeping the location private to ensure the area is as undisturbed as possible.
Volunteers in August initially focused their search on the Utah-Arizona border, believing Conger might have driven back roads to Lee’s Ferry in connection with a trip he had been planning. Patricia Conger said in September that she believed he might have been heading to Ogden, where he was raised, or Orem, where he lived until weeks before his disappearance.
Philanthropist Bill Pulte has pledged a $30,000 reward for any information leading to finding Jesse Conger. Pulte also got pilot Mark Love involved, who has offered his services to searchers in the area.
Planes, helicopters and boats have been employed to search for his car or any clues that could lead to his whereabouts.
Patricia Conger said in September that every day she was “more and more confident in finding Jesse.”
“The caliber of people who have stepped up is extremely high; I am so grateful,” she said.
She said her brother could be using the radio as his primary source of information and contact because he left all of his electronics at home. She is asking volunteers or anyone following along to contact local radio stations to get the word out.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Scottsdale Police Department at 480-312-5000.
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