John Sturkie missing since early January

Theresa and John Sturkie. He was missing from Black Mountain Truck Trail since Jan. 5. Photo courtesy Theresa Sturkie

A 55-year-old husband and father of four, John Sturkie, has been missing since Jan. 5. His remains appear to have been found.

On Monday evening, the Riverside Sheriff’s Department reported, “… human remains believed to be Sturkie’s, pending positive identification by the Coroner’s Bureau, were located and recovered by the search teams.”

Family, friends and Theresa Sturkie, John’s wife, organized and held three searches this spring for her husband. The last was June 22. While they found some evidence, nothing concrete was discovered.

She felt these efforts kept the Sheriff’s Department involved. 

“Yes, I believe they helped as we found clues and worked the possible scenarios,” she wrote in an email. “Also I believe that our persistence helped encourage them to continue and finally do an official search.”

The Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team resumed another search Saturday, June 29. This effort focused on one of the remote mountain areas of Black Meadow Truck Trail.

About noon, four hours after the start, they found the remains of John Sturkie. Foul play is not suspected in this investigation, the Sheriff’s release stated.

Late Sunday, Theresa Sturkie posted the following on Facebook, “My heart aches for all the good times we spent together and the ones missed. I love you. We love you. 

“Today I got a call from the coroner. While DNA has not been done yet, authorities are pretty sure it is you. Thank you John for letting us find you,” she wrote. The coroner confirmed Tuesday afternoon the remains were indeeed her husband’s. 

A lover of the outdoors, frequent camper and hunter, Sturkie left his Oceanside home Friday, Jan. 4. On his way to Idyllwild, he stopped at a friend’s house in El Cajon.

Theresa said, he frequently went alone on these adventures.

On Saturday, he was on the Black Mountain Truck Trail. During the day, rain was falling all over the San Jacinto Mountain. That night snow arrived at lower elevations including Idyllwild and Fern Valley. Nine inches of snow was recorded at the Long Valley Ranger Station, which is much higher. Idyllwild’s recorded temperatures that day were a high of 47 degrees and a low of 34 degrees.

He was not prepared to spend extended time in freezing weather.

With some resolution about John’s disappearance, Theresa and family must still grieve, and she reached out to Idyllwild.

“We would like to thank those in the Idyllwild community for their help and support in our efforts to find John. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. May John rest in peace,” she wrote.

SERT utilized resources from the Special Enforcement Bureau’s ROVE Team, Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit, Desert Search and Rescue, Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (Drone Team), Sheriff’s Aviation, and the Hemet and Cabazon Stations. Numerous searches had been conducted in the area prior.

Anyone with information on this case is encouraged to call Sergeant Chris Mattson or Sergeant John Carlberg at the Cabazon Sheriff’s Station at 951-922-7100. 

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