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Authorities find body of Wyoming teen 4 months after he went missing
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Authorities find body of Wyoming teen 4 months after he went missing

Joseph "Joey" Peterson

Joseph "Joey" Peterson, 16, of Natrona County went missing Nov. 10.

CASPER, Wyo. — Two people riding horses on Sunday found the body of Joey Peterson, the 16-year-old Natrona County boy who disappeared in November after leaving his rural home. 

At 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the riders found a body in the area of Hat 6 Road, according to the Natrona County Sheriff's Office. Natrona County Coroner James Whipps later identified the body as Peterson's. 

Peterson was found on a prairie hillside about 4 miles from his family's home.

Peterson left his family's home east of Casper on Nov. 10, shortly before a storm dropped snow on the area. Scores of volunteers and emergency responders searched for him before the onset of winter temporarily halted the effort.

"We have been, and continue to be, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, care, and empathy for our family," Peterson's family said in a statement released by the sheriff's office. "Through our ongoing despair and heartbreak we continue to be humbled by our community."

Peterson left home without a cellphone or winter clothing. And 10 days after the boy went missing, the sheriff's office announced the search was being handled as a recovery effort and no longer a rescue

Sgt. Taylor Courtney said on Monday morning that Peterson's death appeared to be accidental and non-criminal. He said, through, that the agency would continue its investigation before making a final determination.

Peterson's body was found in an area that was searched in the fall, when it was likely obscured by cactus, grass and sage brush, Courtney said.

"When you're searching for a missing person ... if you miss by an inch you miss by a mile," Courtney said.

He was wearing the same clothes he wore when he left the house, and he was barefoot.

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