The Gila County Sheriff's Department has canceled an August training exercise near Young to squelch speculation that the drill was a covert search for Scottsdale murder suspect Robert Fisher.
Fisher, who investigators think rigged his house to explode to conceal the murders of his wife and two children, was traced to a forested area near Young 10 days after his Scottsdale home blew up and he disappeared April 10.
Scottsdale and Gila County law officers spent two days in snowy weather searching the forest and caves around the spot where Fisher's Toyota 4Runner was found, but the manhunt was unsuccessful.
"We've been back up there several times, and we've searched the hot spots," Gila County Sheriff John Armer said Monday. "We've turned up no new leads, and we're satisfied that the chances that he's up there are slim to none."
Armer said his department had planned to conduct a search and rescue training mission near Young in August, but a June 26 report in the Arizona Republic that erroneously pegged the training exercise as a thinly veiled search for Fisher jeopardized state funding for the drill.
Search and rescue training exercises are partially subsidized by the state, the sheriff said, but they're not eligible for funding if they're conducted for incidents involved in a crime.
The newspaper report obscured the intention of the exercise and called the drill's funding eligibility into question, he said. The county stood to recover about $500 in fuel costs from the state, so the exercise was canceled, he said.
The training will be rescheduled later this year.
In the meantime, the Scottsdale Police Department's investigation has come to a standstill.
"We haven't received any new leads in several weeks," Scottsdale Police officer Scott Reed said. "The closest we came to (Fisher) was when we recovered his vehicle and dog up in your neck of the woods.
"But we're still making efforts to keep attention on the case. We don't want the public to forget."
Anyone with information about Fisher or his whereabouts may call the Scottsdale Police Department at (480) 312-5000.