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Missing man's truck found near Girdwood; search turns up unrelated body

  • Author: Devin Kelly
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published September 26, 2015

A massive search for an Anchorage man missing since Tuesday intensified Saturday when the man's truck was discovered south of Girdwood, and police, family, friends and volunteers scoured the area in the hope of finding him.

Kevin Mitchell, a father of two, is believed to have driven away from his South Anchorage home around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. His wife, family and friends have been frantically looking for him over the past few days, creating a Facebook page and sending out emailed updates and requests for help.

Around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, a friend discovered Mitchell's gray Toyota Tundra at a lake south of Girdwood, near mile marker 87.5 of the Seward Highway, according to Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

As of 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Mitchell had not been found. Searchers braved cold, rainy weather to fan out from the lake into the surrounding terrain, which family friend Jenith Flynn described as "steep and treacherous."

In an unrelated incident, troopers on Saturday found a second vehicle parked about a half-mile from where Mitchell's car was found. A body was found inside the vehicle, dead of an apparent suicide, Peters said.

The body belonged to Joseph Melton, who had been wanted on charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor and violating a protective order, according to a dispatch posted by troopers early Sunday.

Peters said the discovery of Melton's body was "completely unrelated" to the search for Mitchell.

"It's just a coincidence that at about the same location, the other vehicle was found," Peters said.

Throughout the day, Mitchell's family and friends ran the search in coordination with troopers, Flynn said. While the terrain was steep, Mitchell was an avid hiker, she said. In an email update early Saturday afternoon, Flynn put out a plea for help from experienced hikers, searchers, helicopter pilots and tracking dogs to help with the search. Flynn also asked searchers to bring proper footwear, rain gear and warm clothing, as well as GPS devices, radios, survey tape for marking areas and tarps.

A donation center has been set up at Davis Construction & Engineers Inc. on A Street, where Mitchell's wife, Nicole, works, and a list of requested items was posted to a "Find Kevin Mitchell" Facebook page. Flynn said people have been "super responsive" to the calls for help.

At 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Flynn said the search had been suspended for the night and would start again at 7:30 a.m. Sunday near mile 87.5. Alaska Mountain Rescue will lead and coordinate Sunday's search along with troopers, she said.

Anyone who has information on Mitchell's whereabouts or wants to help search can call 907-771-9239, Flynn said. A $10,000 reward has been offered for Mitchell's discovery.

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