Body Of Missing Man, Gun Found In River


The body of a missing 56-year-old Payson man, Ira Eastman, was found Thursday morning in the East Verde River, near the first crossing off Houston Mesa Road.

The Gila County Sheriff's Office and the Payson Police are now both involved in the investigation and are not releasing the details of the discovery.

Eastman was reported missing Monday morning when his wife returned home to find the house had been broken into and her husband gone. Officers quickly determined that the disappearance was suspicious and that Eastman had been abducted against his will.

A call to the sheriff's office led law enforcement officers to the East Verde River.

According to GCSO Det. Brian Havey, the sheriff's office was contacted when a 12-year-old boy, swimming in the river, found a gun stuffed in a sock on a rock ledge.

"Yesterday afternoon, while swimming near the rock ledge, he located a sock with something hard in it," Havey said. "He opened it and discovered it was a handgun. At that point he threw it back in the river."

When deputies went to the area to retrieve the gun, they discovered the body six feet under water and contacted the Payson Police Department.

"The dive team went into the water and on their very first pass came up with a body near the same ledge where he found the gun," GCSO Det. George Ratliff said.

Payson Police Det. Matt Van Camp, who has been the lead detective of the Payson investigation, said it is too early to speculate if the gun is related to Eastman's death.

"It could be a coincidence because this is a popular spot," Van Camp said. "We don't even know the cause of death of the deceased yet."

Ratliff said the body will undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Van Camp said they have been following up on several leads.

"We have leads that we are looking into," Van Camp said. "Now the two departments will get together and decide a plan of action."

"This will be a combined effort between the sheriff's office and the Payson police department," Ratliff said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Payson Police at (928) 474-5177 or the Gila County Sheriff's Office at (928) 474-2208.

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