Alaska State Troopers are still looking for clues in the disappearance of an Arizona man from a hotel in Fairbanks more than two weeks ago.
Keith Stompro, 66, has been missing since at least Dec. 14, when housekeeping staff at Pike's Waterfront Lodge in Fairbanks noticed a number of belongings left in his room past check-out time, including valuables. His bed and shower had also gone unused by that time, said Christena O'Connor, assistant general manager at the Lodge.
Beth Ipsen, a troopers spokeswoman, said it was unusual for Stompro to have left his possessions in the hotel room.
Stompro originally checked into the hotel Dec. 10, and was planning to stay just a few days, O'Connor said. Hotel staff reported his disappearance to Alaska State Troopers on Dec. 20.
Scott Summers, a retired banker in Scottsdale, Ariz. and a longtime friend of Stompro's, said he last spoke to Stompro about six months ago.
The two met in the early 1970s as co-workers at a bank in Phoenix. Some years later, Stompro "got really strange," leaving banking to strike out on his own in the brokerage business, Summers said. He lost track of his friend in the late 1980s, and heard from him less and less frequently over the years.
When they last talked on the phone, Stompro was living near Mormon Lake in northern Arizona, possibly in a mobile home park, and was having trouble making payments on an Airstream RV and a Humvee he owned, Summers said.
If his most recent investments didn't pan out, "he was going to grab his RV, hook it on his Humvee, and drive to Alaska," Summers said.
Stompro had also taken several rifles and other items to a pawn shop, Summers said.
"People usually don't do that unless they're getting pretty desperate," he said. "It didn't sound like things were going to come together for him."
Summers said he and his wife were watching the evening news recently when a picture of Stompro popped up on the screen. Summers couldn't believe it.
He described Stompro as a highly conservative, intelligent man interested in the outdoors, but that he had grown increasingly reclusive over the last two decades.
Even Stompro's family didn't know he had traveled north, Ipsen said. Summers, meanwhile, said he suspected Stompro may have gone to Alaska to disappear.
"It's just strange he disappeared the way he did," Summers said. He added that Stompro grew up in North Dakota, and has experienced cold temperatures.
Around the time Stompro disappeared, on Dec. 14, the high temperature in Fairbanks was 2 degrees, said Harry Lind, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fairbanks. But two days later, a cooling pattern plunged the thermometer into the -20s and -30s, Lind said. The frigid weather continued through Christmas.
Stompro first arrived in Alaska in early November, and rented a car in Anchorage, Ipsen said. He later totaled the car when he crashed into a herd of caribou on the way to Fairbanks, she said.
Stompro apparently caught a ride into Fairbanks and checked into the hotel that same day. Four days later, he vanished.
Summers said it was odd that Stompro had rented a car, after saying months earlier he planned to drive to Alaska in his RV.
"And he runs into a herd of caribou...everything sounds very strange to me," Summers said.
Anyone who has had contact with Stompro since Dec. 10 or has information on his whereabouts can contact Alaska State Troopers in Fairbanks at 451-5100.
Reach Devin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4314.
By DEVIN KELLY