COLUMBIA, Mo. (July 3, 2010) — Family members of Eddie Acosta, a Fort Leonard Wood civilian employee who has been missing more than a month, said police notified them late Friday night that human remains believed to be those of Acosta have been located down a series of cliffs in Columbia.
Acosta, 45, of Laquey, was taken from his worksite at Fort Leonard Wood with stroke-like symptoms on May 28, transported to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital, and then transferred by ambulance to University Hospital in Columbia for emergency treatment.
While he arrived via ambulance, he walked out of the hospital on his own without a car or any other transportation back to the Fort Leonard Wood area. He told friends that his cell phone battery was dying and he’d call them back when he found a place to stay for the night until they could pick him up in the morning. However, he never called his friends back and hasn’t been seen since leaving a hotel lobby near the hospital, where he decided against getting a room. Some reports indicate he may have planned to stay overnight at the Veterans Administration hospital lobby, but there’s no record of him being there.
Marina Acosta, Eddie Acosta’s sister-in-law who serves as a family spokesman, said University of Missouri Police aren’t yet certain of the identity of the body they’ve found, but hope to know soon.
“We have been notified that they have found a person’s remains and some of his personal effects,” she said. “We were not told the specific location; we were told that once they brought the body up and verified that it was Eddie, they would disclose the location to us.”
It’s not clear where Eddie Acosta went after leaving University Hospital, but the hospital is near a series of cliffs close to a roadway hidden in trees that would have been very difficult to see at night.
“There was an area that was extremely difficult to see and search, and without proper training on climbing and searching for any signs of disturbance of the ground or items, along with trying to keep your feet underneath you, it was not something just anyone could have done,” Marina Acosta said.
However, Marina Acosta’s husband is a trained search-and-rescue climber, and he drove up from Texas to help with the search in person.
“We are members of an organization called United Response Search and Rescue, and we search in the state of Texas where we reside,” she said.
“That area had been searched with canines and cadaver dogs and by the police and by us and a lot of the search and rescue organizations that stepped up and assisted … We searched that area so I have no idea what happened,” she said. “We searched that so thoroughly. We are grateful that it is him, if it is him, for closure, but we do not know how he was missed.”
Until positive identification can be made, it’s still possible the human remains discovered may be someone else even though some of Acosta’s personal effects were found nearby. Earlier in the search, a Hispanic male was found floating in water who was later determined not to be Acosta.
If the human remains do prove to be those of Eddie Acosta, family members won’t be happy about the way the search was handled, Marina Acosta said.
“I was disappointed and frustrated at the lack of support that we were given by the Columbia Police Department. We had to push and fight for actual acknowledgement, and I feel if they had taken this case seriously from the beginning, maybe the outcome wouldn’t be what it is. We begged them, and we had to drive from another state and recruit our own volunteers to help them do their job,” she said. “Once it was brought to their attention, they passed the buck from one person to another and I am disappointed about the lack of cooperation.”
While Acosta said police cooperation was not the best, she said she was very pleased by the response from the Fort Leonard Wood area and local Masonic organizations. Eddie Acosta was an Iraq veteran and numerous military personnel, some with specialized search and rescue training, turned out to help the search efforts.
“Sometimes when you find something you weren’t looking for, it’s easy to blame someone and that is not what we want to do. Maybe the outcome would have been different if we had been able to find him earlier,” she said. “But we do want to thank the Shriners. They really stepped up and got things done; they honored him for what he worked for.”
Texas memorial scheduled this Sunday for Eddie Acosta, local service soon
Posted: Friday, August 20, 2010 4:30 pm
THIS ARTICLE: Body believed to be missing Eddie Acosta found down Columbia cliffside
Posted: Saturday, July 3, 2010 10:34 am
Search for Acosta continues today in Columbia after two weeks missing
Posted: Saturday, June 12, 2010 12:40 pm
Family and friends search for local man missing Friday from Columbia hospital
Posted: Wednesday, June 2, 2010 10:10 pm
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