Search for missing Irma man ends Sunday with wife’s discovery of his body near Ice Age Trail
BY TINA L. SCOTT
Jason Meyer, age 49 of Irma, was reported missing by his wife, Brenda, the evening of Tuesday, June 13, 2023, when he failed to return home after work as expected. Jason’s family said he had been having mental health issues and exhibiting paranoid behavior, and they were concerned for his safety. He had been last seen at 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning and apparently did not go to his jobsite as originally planned.
Jason’s daughter, Ahna, located his vehicle approximately four miles away from the family home on Burma Rd., South of Hwy. E, at the Ice Age Trail trailhead early on Wednesday morning. His uneaten lunch and water from Tuesday, along with his cell phone and other personal items, were in his locked vehicle. The keys were not in the vehicle.
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department (LCSO) responded and conducted search efforts on Wednesday and Thursday, utilizing dogs, a drone, a plane, going door-to-door at area homes and cabins, and patrolling local highways according to the family. On Wednesday, the LCSO released a statement asking for the community’s help to locate him, saying he was considered missing and possibly endangered. “We are not currently requesting help with a ground search,” their release said. “We have a search currently being conducted.”
On Thursday, LCSO updated their release on Facebook, asking people in the area to “check their game/trail cameras” for signs of the missing man.
“At this point we have conducted a search of the area by ground, air, K9s, and checked the water way,” the LCSO concluded. According to the LCSO, many agencies assisted in the search efforts.
According to the family, deputies suggested canines had “hit” on a few areas to the north of the Ice Age Trail. However, no real signs of Jason were found.
Late Thursday evening, the LCSO called off search efforts, saying they had exhausted their resources, the family said.
On Friday, the family began organizing their own ground search, with the assistance of extended family and friends and neighbor Mike Specht, who also enlisted the help of the Lincoln County Sports Club and its members. They called for volunteers who were physically capable of walking easily in the woods and thick forest to help.
More than 100 volunteers came Saturday morning, equipped with bug spray and wearing high visibility clothing, to conduct a ground grid search which began at 9:30 a.m. Peter Anderson of Medford and Specht helped coordinate and direct the volunteers who turned out to help with the search.
Despite the heat, volunteers made a thorough and grueling search of most of the area north of the Ice Age Trail all the way to Hwy. E amid dense, difficult to navigate terrain.
During the search, volunteers found some sticks and LCSO deputies confirmed the arrangement of sticks was man-made, the family said. However, there was no solid evidence to link the spot to Jason in particular. With the family and volunteers fighting exhaustion, the family agreed to regroup and commence another search Sunday morning.
This time the family would target their search, again north of the Ice Age Trail, near very swampy terrain in the area near and adjacent to where the sticks had been found. They asked for volunteers who were capable of not only navigating the woods and understanding a compass, but also walking for extended periods in VERY dense and wet areas in the County Forest located on the north end of Burma Rd. and Hwy. E. They asked volunteers to bring hip/chest waders if they had them, as well as regular hiking/hunting boots.
Sunday morning, that search started around 8:00 a.m., drawing approximately 40 volunteers who came to tackle the terrain again on Father’s Day in the search for Jason.
While volunteers were searching the swampy area north of the Ice Age Trail, at about 9:45 a.m., the missing man’s wife, Brenda, discovered Jason’s body in the edge of the woods, just to the south of the Ice Age Trail and just south of several logs stacked in a pile that had been left there by area loggers immediately to the side of the trail. His body was located just 25 feet from the edge of the Ice Age Trail and just 100 feet from the edge of Burma Rd. but on the south side of the trail, not the north side where all search efforts had been concentrated.
Mark Heckendorf, Lincoln County Deputy Coroner, responded to the scene, and on Monday, June 19, Lincoln County Coroner Valerie Caylor examined the body and confirmed Jason had died by suicide due to self-inflicted injuries. She determined he had died sometime on Friday, June 16, after being missing more than 72 hours.
Jason’s immediate family–wife, Brenda; daughter, Ahna; and son, Isaac–are understandably traumatized.
“This has been the worst week of our lives,” Brenda said.
Yet the family deeply appreciates the kindness of many of the deputies and the outpouring of support from the community.
“We just want to say thanks to all those people that came out here,” Isaac said on behalf of the family. “We were overwhelmed by the support from the community, and it meant the world to us that everybody came out here to look for my dad. And because of you guys, we found him, and that brings us closure, so we’re eternally grateful for that.”