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4 Prince of Wales residents still missing

Posted: November 30, 2011 - 1:03am

KETCHIKAN — Four people who have been reported missing on Prince of Wales Island this year remain missing, according to law enforcement agencies.

On June 5, the parents of Clinton O’Connor Jr., 44, of Craig, reported that they hadn’t seen their son since mid-April.

Sgt. R.J. Ely, the acting chief of the Craig Police Department, said Friday that officers are investigating any information or leads received, but to no avail so far.

O’Connor was known for leaving home for weeks at a time, without contacting anyone, said Ely.

“He was an outdoorsman, a hunter, hiker, and he liked the wilderness,” Ely said. “It was not uncommon to hear he was going out to explore a new mountain or something. I think that’s why it took so long for his parents to report him missing.”

There is no reason to believe O’Connor was suicidal or that mental issues were involved, said Ely.

“I only know that he’s still listed as missing,” Ely said.

If O’Connor has any contact with a police officer in Alaska or another state, the Craig department will hear about it through law enforcement databases, Ely said.

O’Connor’s mother, Judy O’Connor, said she disagreed with Ely’s characterization of her son as one who would head into the woods for extended periods.

“He was a big strong man who liked to fish and hunt, but he just didn’t play Daniel Boone,” she said.

Mrs. O’Connor and her husband, Clinton O’Connor Sr., also live in Craig, separately from their son, but they were out of town from November 2010 until April 30, she said.

They had been trying to telephone him for two weeks before their return, without success, she said.

When the parents returned to Craig, they went to their son’s apartment, where they found his wallet, identification and cell phone, she said.

Food was in the cupboards and no clothing appeared to be missing. It didn’t look as though he’d been packing to go anywhere, said Mrs. O’Connor.

She said she didn’t believe her son would take off without letting friends know, and added that he has a son and daughter from a previous marriage, who also live in Craig with their mother.

He missed his daughter’s high school graduation in May, said Mrs. O’Connor.

The younger O’Connor’s friends produced a poster with a photograph of the missing man and took it all over Prince of Wales Island, asking questions and leaving contact telephone numbers, said Mrs. O’Connor.

His photo appeared in the Island News for three or four weeks, she said.

None of the efforts resulted in any further information, she said.

A family friend reported having seen the missing man, sitting in the back seat of a parked car, on about April 16, said Mrs. O’Connor. The friend said he didn’t look good on that occasion, Mrs. O’Connor said.

Meanwhile, two boys reported missing from the Thorne Bay area also have not been found.

Laura Simmermeyer reported that her sons, Jacob, now 12, and Toby, 14, were not in their beds when she went to wake them on June 2.

The boys go by the name of Simmermeyer, but also sometimes use Mathis, their father’s last name.

The boys’ parents were in the midst of divorce proceedings when they disappeared.

They have many older siblings, ranging in age up to the mid-30s, living in places as far flung as Palmer and the state of Ohio.

In August, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said the boys were considered runaways and that they would be returned to their mother if they were found.

On Monday, Peters said she had spoken with investigating officers and that there was nothing new to report in the case.

The same was true, Peters said, regarding the case of a Springfield, Ore., man who disappeared Aug. 2 after planning to walk to an unnamed lake near Thorne Bay.

Alan Landers, 60, was visiting a local home, and was last seen around 4 p.m. when he walked out wearing pants, tennis shoes and a red T-shirt and carrying a fishing pole.

When he hadn’t returned by 10 p.m., Landers was reported missing.

Search and rescue organizations from Prince of Wales Island and Ketchikan looked for Landers on the ground, from the air and with dog teams.

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