Police Search For Clues In Possible Abduction

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When Peggy Tepolt returned from an appointment early Monday morning, she said it was clear someone had forced entry into her home. But the intruders appear to have only taken one thing -- her husband.

Payson police responded to the home on East Luke Drive after Tepolt called 911 at 6:41 a.m. Monday. She reported a home invasion and that her husband, 56-year-old Ira Eugene Eastman, was missing.

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56-year-old Ira Eastman is missing from his north Payson home after a suspected home invasion early Monday morning.

"As I walked up to the door, I knew something was wrong," Tepolt said. "The door was open and there was broken glass."

Officers found evidence of forced entry. They also determined that Eastman was missing under suspicious circumstances.

"It's very unusual," Lt. Don Engler of the Payson Police Department said. "We're continuing to work through some leads this morning (Tuesday). We hope one of them might lead us to Ira."

Tepolt said she found her husband's glasses on the nightstand right where he left them, and said he can't see without them.

"Why would someone do this? Ira was the nicest man and everybody loved him," Tepolt said. "It just doesn't make sense."

Tepolt said she and her husband have been married 16 years.

"He is such a sweet gentle man," Tepolt said. "This is totally unreal. It's just a nightmare happening."

Details about the case are being withheld as the investigation continues. However, according to a press release from the police department, it is possible that Eastman was kidnapped from his home.

According to Engler, detectives found evidence in the residence and they are searching for clues in the forest around the home.

"We've been supported in our search efforts by the Gila County Sheriff's Office and Tonto Rim Search and Rescue," he said. "They searched the northern area in the forest adjacent to the residence and grids north and west of the residence toward Highway 87."

Expanding the search

As of press time, no significant evidence had been found in the search. The police department is now expanding its search.

"We're going to the Phoenix media today," Engler said. "We are seeking the public's assistance on this case."

Eastman is described as a white male, about 5-foot, 10-inches tall, 190 to 200 pounds, gray hair with long darker hair in back -- almost to the center of his back, a gray beard, and hazel eyes. Eastman has no tattoos but has an older surgery scar on his tailbone. He was last seen wearing a brown bathrobe.

Anyone who has contact with Eastman, or information relating to this incident, is asked to call Det. Matt Van Camp at the Payson Police Department at (928) 474-5177.

"I hope that someone will see his picture and remember seeing something," Tepolt said through tear-filled eyes. "Things like this just don't happen in Payson."

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