Hikers find body on Homestake Pass; runners think it’s their missing friend

2014-06-09T13:58:00Z 2014-08-14T11:15:04Z Hikers find body on Homestake Pass; runners think it’s their missing friendBy ANGELA BRANDT Montana Standard The Billings Gazette
June 09, 2014 1:58 pm  • 

BUTTE — A couple of hikers and their dog found a body off of a trail on Homestake Pass on Sunday.

Jefferson County Undersheriff Mike Thompson is not releasing many details on the incident, but confirmed a body was found and taken to the state crime lab in Missoula for testing. He would not say if it was a man or a woman.

The area is near where crews have continuously searched for runner Jim Ryan, who went missing in February amid allegations of embezzlement. Just a few weeks ago officials once again scoured the trails with no success.

“We are not tying the two together at this time,” Johnson said.

The body was found at about 1:45 p.m. on the south side of Homestake Pass about three-quarters of a mile from the parking area. Thompson said they are awaiting an ID from the crime lab and also cause of death. He would not say if there were any signs of foul play.

Many of Ryan’s running friends figure it is him.

Eddie Walker, who spearheaded a search group of Ryan’s friends and fellow runners, said she and others were on the same trails Sunday morning. The body was found on the opposite side of the trails from where officials thought Ryan may have been.

“If it is him, I just hope he didn’t suffer,” Walker said. “We were all hoping he was alive because we love him.”

Ryan’s alleged embezzlement of more than $175,000 from his employer remains in the hands of the FBI.

Ryan, 54, worked as the business manager for the Sheet Metal Workers International Association in Helena and was to meet with union officials about huge losses from its general fund on the day he disappeared. The union says Ryan took cash advances without explanation, sold union cars without depositing the money into the proper accounts, wrote checks to himself and made questionable credit card transactions over several years.

Ryan lived in Butte and worked in Helena. His car was found near the county line with Silver Bow, whose officials are helping in the search efforts.

Ryan was last seen by his wife on the morning of Feb. 19. Authorities found his union-owned car the next day at a Homestake Pass trailhead, east of Butte. Officials first suspected Ryan, an avid runner, may have gone there to exercise before work.

Walker recalled Ryan, who was a much swifter runner, staying behind with her.

“He was faster than me but he’d never leave me,” she said.

Figuring it is her friend, Walker said the running group hopes this gives Ryan’s family closure.

“I’m just sad. You’re glad he’s found, but you’re sad he’s gone,” she said.

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