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Foul play caused the disappearance of a Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson airman about 20 days ago, police announced midday Tuesday.
Several hours later, investigators were examining the body of an unidentified man in Eagle River. They revealed little about the condition of the body, any distinguishing characteristics or the circumstances of the man's death, and they did not connect the two cases.
The disappearance of missing Senior Airman Clinton Reeves remains the Anchorage Police Department's only open missing persons case, said police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker. But that doesn't mean the body found Tuesday is Reeves, said Parker, who spoke with Reeves' parents about the grisly discovery.
"We want to prepare them in case this is him, and also prepare them in case this is not him," Parker said.
Reeves, 22, was reported missing April 23 after he failed to report for duty at the military base adjacent to Anchorage. Reeves was last seen April 19 leaving work, and a friend last talked to him April 22. Police say they seized a car on April 27 that Reeves had rented. The car was parked at 309 McCarrey St. in northeast Anchorage just south of the Glenn Highway.
Reeves' parents flew to Alaska and, along with volunteers, posted thousands of missing-person fliers across Anchorage for their only child. Reeves' father, Terry Reeves, said his son had recently received money from an insurance claim after a car wreck and was looking to buy a replacement vehicle when he went missing.
Judy Davis, Reeves' mother, said detectives told her Tuesday morning that they think criminal activity played a role in her son's disappearance. Davis said she believed that determination was based on interviews the detectives had conducted.
"They think it could be possible that he had cash on him," Davis said.
Parker said homicide detectives were not saying why they now think Reeves was the victim of foul play.
"Their investigation's gotten to the point where they're quite certain he's the victim of foul play, but they're not willing to go further than that at this point," Parker said. "There's information that can't be shared yet with the public."
Parker said he didn't know if the foul play was related to Reeves' search for a vehicle. The detectives have not released details of any leads on Reeves' whereabouts or condition or if they were closer to finding him than when the investigation started, Parker said.
"In terms of a location, they have not shared anything about possible locations yet," Parker said. "They have much more information than they had 20 days ago when he disappeared. But we're not saying closer or farther at this point. You don't know until you actually find him."
Davis said she feared her son was dead but was still holding out hope that he was missing or, at worst, kidnapped.
"I'm still trying to grasp the information I was just told. I don't know what to think," Davis said Tuesday after police announced they believed foul play was involved.
A small group of people walking on Golden Eagle Drive discovered what looked like a body about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Parker said.
"There were women walking along the road, they started screaming, and the neighbors called 911," he said.
Police found the body in a small depression off the side of the road, Parker said.
A half-dozen police cars were parked near the top of a hill on Golden Eagle Drive, near Skyline Drive, by about 3 p.m. Crime scene investigators arrived about a half-hour later and were still working on the steep hill about 5 p.m.
Parker would not say how long police believe the body had been there. He said an initial identification of the body could come as soon as Tuesday evening but, more likely, on Wednesday. The police spokesman said he could not say whether there were signs of foul play.
State prosecutors and a homicide detective at the scene declined to comment.
Victims for Justice has established a reward fund at First National Bank Alaska for information leading to Clinton Reeves' recovery and a cash reward up to $1,000 for tips that lead to the arrest of a felony crime suspect.
Police ask that anyone with information about Reeves' whereabouts or his rented, red 2012 Dodge Avenger around the time he went missing call the Anchorage Police Department at 786-8900 or JBER security forces at 552-8550.
Reach Casey Grove at email@example.com or 257-4589.
By CASEY GROVE
Anchorage Daily News