Body recovery

A Department of Public Safety helicopter carried the body of a man found off Cracker Jack Road Wednesday.

The body of a Payson man was found off Cracker Jack Road Wednesday, a week after he reportedly left home.

The Gila County Sheriff’s Office is still piecing together what happened to the man as it is unclear how he died and when.

The man, who officials have not yet identified, reportedly liked to go out by himself to camp and hike and would often be gone for a week at a time, said GCSO Sgt. Dennis Newman.

This time, however, when he didn’t show back up, his mother grew worried and filed a missing persons report sometime last week, said GCSO Det. Sgt. David Hornung.

A few days after she filed that report, someone reported an unattended vehicle some two miles down Cracker Jack, west of East Verde Estates. A deputy ran the truck’s plate and it came back as the vehicle of the missing man, Hornung said. The man’s wallet, cell phone and car keys were in the unlocked vehicle.

The GCSO called in Tonto Rim Search and Rescue to help look for the man. TRSAR Commander Bill Pitterle and another volunteer located the body some 200 yards from his vehicle on a hill above the road, Hornung said.

His backpack was sitting on an outcropping of rocks and his body was located below a rock, Hornung said.

It is unclear how long the man’s body had been there, when he died or how, Hornung said.

It appears the man was last heard from a week earlier.

“I guess he liked to go out in to the woods for extended periods of time,” Newman said.

The sheriff’s office is awaiting the results of an autopsy and toxicology report to determine a cause of death.

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