Searchers in the Reed Point area found no leads Friday on the location of an Illinois man who was last heard from Sunday, according to the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office.
Paul P. Batson, a 45-year-old U.S. Postal Service worker from Batavia, Illinois, is missing under suspicious circumstances, according to the sheriff's office.
Batson was in Montana looking at Butte and Bozeman as possible transfer cities for employment, according to information provided by Tammie Mullikin, an evidence technician and public information officer with the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office.
Batson's 2016 gray Dodge Charger was found in Reed Point on Sunday evening; the sheriff's office has not specified where it was found.
Batson last sent a text to his girlfriend in Illinois on Sunday from Montana, said his sister, Jennifer Batson-List, of Belvidere, in an interview with the (Chicago) Daily Herald. There haven't been any texts or phone calls since.
Batson's girlfriend reported him missing after speaking with Batson's family and calling hospitals and hotels in the Bozeman area, Batson-List said.
After Batson's car was found empty in Reed Point on Sunday evening, a license plate check found that he had been reported as a missing person by the Bozeman Police Department, according to the sheriff's office.
Family members and co-workers are worried about him, Batson-List said.
"We love him," she said. "We want him safe. We want him home."
Last week, he was in Colorado to visit his three grown children, she said.
"He was just going out there (to Montana) to check things out," Batson-List said. "It's only eight hours from where his children live."
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Batson has never disappeared before, his sister said.
"His children are desperate to find him," she said. "My parents are quite distraught."
Friday's search continued into the afternoon and included the use of a jet boat and swift water search and rescue technicians to search the Yellowstone River. Stillwater County Search and Rescue helped with the river search. An area was also searched with dogs from Absaroka Search Dogs and Western Montana Dog Search.
"This is an ongoing investigation. We are following up on leads and continue to ask the public for information," Mullkin wrote in a press release. The Bozeman Police Department is also investigating.
A U.S. Navy veteran, Batson has worked as a postal carrier since 1994, said his supervisor, Erica Friedman. She described Batson as a "funny, sarcastic guy" who has a quick wit and often smiles.
Batson is well-regarded by his customers, Friedman said. The staff at Geneva High School, which was on his route at the time, once gave Batson a plaque declaring him postal carrier of the year, Friedman said.
Batson's co-workers have been sharing information about his disappearance on social media.
"We want to make sure that he's safe and gets home safe," Friedman said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office at 406-322-5326 and speak with Sgt. Randy Smith or call the Bozeman Police Department at 406-582-2000 and speak with Detective Sgt. Joe Swanson.
Batson is 6 feet 2 inches tall and has brown eyes and brown hair. His direction of travel and clothing at the time of his disappearance were unknown as of Wednesday.