Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Dex Gannon’s body found near Elkhorn

Cause of death remains under investigation


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

An estimated 200 people attended a gathering Monday afternoon at Zenergy Health Club in Ketchum to organize a community search for Dexter Gannon. Steve Gannon, the father of Dexter Gannon, said he was “overwhelmed” by the community support he’s received in the search for his missing son. Photo by David N. Seelig

The body of a 21-year-old Blaine County man missing since Friday morning was found by a volunteer searcher on a hillside above Elkhorn on Tuesday afternoon.

According to a statement from the Sun Valley Police Department, Dexter Gannon's body was found at about 2:45 p.m. near Keystone Road. A helicopter used by Sun Valley Helicopter Ski Guides arrived at the scene shortly before 5 p.m. to evacuate the body.

"At this time, the police are investigating to determine the cause of death," the statement reads.

Gannon, an honor student and 2008 Wood River High School graduate, went missing in subzero temperatures when he walked away from a friend's home on Morning Star Road in the Elkhorn foothills sometime between midnight and 7 a.m. Friday. Sun Valley Police reported that he left his wallet and his cell phone, but that he apparently took a gun that he obtained at the home.

"I know that he left that house with the intention of ending his own life," said Gannon's father, Steve Gannon, a resident of Ketchum, during an interview Tuesday before his son's body had been found.

Gannon's disappearance prompted a massive search that began Saturday in the Elkhorn and East Fork areas, and involved police, Blaine County Search and Rescue, a scent dog, a helicopter, an airplane, snowmobiles and family, friends and volunteers.

A community search got underway Monday when an estimated 200 people attended an organizing meeting at Zenergy Health Club in Ketchum. Hundreds of posters with Gannon's photograph were handed out for distribution to the community, and Daggett advised the group to call Sun Valley Police if they discovered anything that might lead to information about Gannon's whereabouts.

Sun Valley Assistant Police Chief Mike Crawford said Gannon's body was found under a ledge and had been hard to spot.

Steve Gannon described his son as a "very spiritual person" whose thinking became "skewed" in recent months.

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"He'd been sort of obsessing about death," he said. "It wasn't that he was depressed. He thought that with death he was going to someplace else—a better place. I wish he'd have just waited like the rest of us."

Steve Gannon said his son had posted a message on Facebook just prior to his disappearance stating: "Dex Gannon did it for love."

"It's still a mystery what he meant by that," he said.

He said his son also left a message on his cell phone stating, "I love you all.'"

"We consider this 'I love you' banner to be his final message," he said.

Steve Gannon said his son attended Rice University on a scholarship, majoring in math and economics for two years but came home last spring for treatment for "psychological problems."

"I thought he was making progress and he was scheduled to attend Boise State in January and to return to Rice in the fall," he said.

"In retrospect, he'd been saying goodbye to people all day long," Steve Gannon said, referring to the day before his son's disappearance. "He was making a point of hugging people and saying 'I love you.' I didn't think about it much at the time, but the next day when he was missing, all of a sudden it seemed to fit."

A celebration of life service is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 8, at 2:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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