Tags: idaho | hiker | body | found

Idaho Hiker Found Dead After Month's Search Slowed by Shutdown

By Clyde Hughes   |   Thursday, 24 Oct 2013 11:49 AM

Jo Elliott-Blakeslee, an Idaho physician who had been missing since Sept. 19 on a hiking excursion, was found dead west of the Tree Molds Trail at Craters of the Moon National Monument by park rangers Tuesday. The search was slowed by the federal government shutdown.

The Idaho Statesman reported that Elliott-Blakeslee's body was found about a mile from the spot where searchers found hiking partner Amy Linkert’s body on Sept. 25. Authorities originally identified Linkert's body as Elliott-Blakeslee's until dental records confirmed it was Linkert. 

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"We hope that this will bring closure to her family, friends and all those who have been involved in the search," Park Superintendent Dan Buckley told Fox News. "We join the family in thanking the searchers and local communities for the tremendous outpouring of support that we have received throughout this intense effort." 

Reuters reported that as many as 100 people searched for Elliott-Blakeslee and Linkert when they were first reported missing but the search had been scaled back Oct. 1 because of the federal government shutdown. 

Ted Stout, the park's chief of interpretation and education, said that he and several other Craters of the Moon workers were furloughed during the shutdown, but they still continued their search for Elliott-Blakeslee across the park's 750,000 acres, which includes volcanic rifts and underground tunnels carved by ancient lava flows.

"We can't let her down now. This needs to continue," Stout told Reuters the day after he and other park officials were furloughed.

Park rangers at the monument requested an unmanned military drone to take photographs of the search area. This was after a helicopter, contracted from Reeder Air Service of Twin Falls, took photographs Tuesday.

The newspaper reported that Elliott-Blakeslee, 63, worked at the Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, Ore. Linkert, 69, was a retired special education teacher at Lowell Scott Middle School in Meridian.

The Statesman said the two were last seen Sept. 19 at a KOA campground in Arco, 18 miles east of Craters of the Moon.

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