WEST WILLIAMSON — Mingo County 911 received a call at approximately 11:45 a.m. on Monday reporting the sighting of a body lying alongside the shore of the Tug River, behind the floodwall surrounding the Appalachian Regional Hospital, across from Armory Drive. Emergency personnel responded, and began the long and tedious process of recovery.
The body was identified as a “John Doe” at this point in the early investigation, but Sgt. Joe Smith with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department and Williamson Patrolman Darry Paige feel strongly that the deceased is more than likely Chad Everett Roberts, a 41 year-old Rawl resident who was reported as last being seen on Jan. 3rd of this year, on the riverbank under the Pete Dillon (Harvey Street) Bridge in Williamson.
“Patrolman Paige took the initial report and I assisted him with the missing person’s investigation,” stated Sgt. Smith. “We were told that Chad and a friend were under the bridge at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 3rd, which was the last time he was seen by anyone. The witness told us that Chad was wearing brown insulated bibs, white sneakers and a black toboggan when he spoke with him the evening he disappeared, which exactly matches the description of the clothing worn by the deceased male.”
“We have to treat this as a John Doe (unidentified male) until the identity is confirmed by the Kentucky State Coroner’s office in Frankfort, where it will be sent for an autopsy,” said Kentucky State Police (KSP) Detective Kevin Newsome. The recovery process was first in the hands of Mingo County law enforcement and emergency personnel but was turned over to Kentucky officials since the body washed ashore on that side of the river. Detective Newsome was assisted at the scene by KSP Detective Gary Sykes and Trooper Stephen Mirus.
The body of the deceased male was spotted by Jason Bays, a construction worker who is contracted to assist with renovations and additions being completed on the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. Bays was driving on Armory Drive looking toward the river bank for ducks, when he observed an object that, upon taking a closer look, appeared to be a body.
“I turned my vehicle around and went back to take another look,” stated Bays. “I parked and walked down the bank and using a pair of binoculars that I keep in my car that I use when I hunt, I was able to see that it was definitely a man’s body. I immediately called 911.”
The Williamson Fire Department was dispatched to the scene, and along with Mingo County Emergency Director Jarrod Fletcher, was prepared to executive a recovery mission to retrieve the body. After contacting Pikeville Post 9 of the KSP, they were told Kentucky would assume the investigation since the body was on Commonwealth soil.
Several members of the Belfry Volunteer Fire Department, under the direction of Fire Chief Nee Jackson, successfully completed the recovery of the deceased, which was no easy task due to the location and the condition of the terrain. The male was pronounced dead by Pike County Coroner Mike Hall and was transported from the scene by coroner’s office personnel, who will make the drive to Frankfort where the medical examiner will proceed to examine the body and determine the exact cause of death and identity.
More information on the case will be published in the Williamson Daily News as soon as it is released by state officials conducting the investigation.