The body of a Mingo County man who had been reported missing earlier last week was found three days later in a wooded area near his home at Sprigg.
Police said Jimmy Lee Murphy, 70, had left home on the morning of May 25 and, after he failed to return by that evening, his family called 911 and reported him missing.
“According to his wife, he had gone out that morning on his ATV but that no one reported him missing until Wednesday night,” said Sgt. M. S. Lively with the West Virginia State Police Williamson Detachment.
Lively said searchers found Murphy’s ATV on an ATV trail later that night and continued the search throughout Thursday and Friday, which along with ground first responders also entailed both a canine unit and aerial search.
It wasn’t until approximately noon on Saturday that Murphy’s body was discovered by members of the Kermit Volunteer Fire Department, Lively said.
“The first night the two dogs picked up a scent but we believe due to a pretty bad thunderstorm the trail went cold for them,” Lively said.
Kermit VFD Chief Tommy “Tomahawk” Preece, who along with KVFD fireman Grayson Spaulding discovered the body, said Murphy was not found in the immediate location of his ATV because he had left it and climbed up to the ridge of a steep hillside.
“When we joined the search I asked where the ATV had been found and we began our search from that point,” Preece said. “We climbed up the hill until we reached the ridge and then began working our way across it. We hadn’t gone too far when I looked over the hill and spotted him.
“He was wearing camouflage clothing, so he had blended in with the surrounding area pretty well.”
Lively said there was no indication of foul play and that it appeared as if Murphy had died of natural causes. However, the body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Charleston for an autopsy, he added.
Besides the WVSP, Mingo County Emergency Management and the KVFD, the Matewan Volunteer Fire Department, Logan County Search and Rescue, the Delbarton Volunteer Fire Department, STAT EMS, the Mingo County Sheriff’s Office, Pike County (Kentucky) OEM, the National Weather Service in Charleston, Mingo County 911, the Belfry Volunteer Fire Department, Tyler County Search and Rescue, the WV Forestry Service and the WV Dept. of Homeland Security/Emergency Management also provided assistance with the search.