Remains originally believed to be missing Dover man are not human, Alaska troopers say
The Alaska State Troopers said those remains the group found, were not human remains.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The wife of a missing Dover, Tennessee man who went missing during a hunting trip in the Alaskan wilderness was hopeful that remains found were that of her husband.
Later investigation showed the remains were not human.
Liz Keel said a group of searchers, using cadaver dogs, sonar and a forensic device possibly found the remains of her husband, Steve Keel. However, the Alaska State Troopers said those remains the group found, were not human remains.
Keel said her husband’s remains were found in a lake by her team of searchers and Alaska State Troopers were alerted and began the process of activating divers to retrieve his remains.
“Alaska doesn’t have any state-trained divers that are part of the troopers or the Dept of Public Safety. They have to get a nonprofit group to go. Our team could have recovered Steve right then but Alaska troopers said no they would do the recovery,” Keel said.
She added part of her team had to leave while the others stayed to keep an eye on the area. It took two weeks for authorities to arrange travel for the divers, Keel said, while no officials were on site to watch over the area.
“On the day the divers arrived I was told that their cadaver dog also alerted in the same place as the other 2 but they had to leave because the weather had turned. It was very foggy so they decided to return the next day to recover Steve,” she said.
Next, Keel claims the divers didn’t arrive until the next afternoon to search the lake, and late in the evening, she received a call and was told they had found nothing.
“Since then none of the authorities or divers have contacted me or supplied the pictures videos or coordinates of the search but the divers have been busy posting information on Facebook evidently trying to distance themselves from the search since they missed him in the lake,” Keel said.
Alaska State Troopers released a statement to WSMV4:
On August 22, 2023, the Alaska State Troopers were notified by a family coordinated search team that they had a cadaver dog indication and sonar scan that they described as a possible deceased person in a shallow tundra lake West of the Dalton Highway. The group requested that the Alaska State Troopers send a dive team to the site. The Alaska State Troopers contacted the North Slope Borough, who remain the coordinating agency for the investigation and search for Steven Keel. In coordination with the North Slope Borough, the Alaska Dive Search, Rescue, and Recovery team was deployed to the site by the Troopers. They arrived on September 6th with the assistance of the Alaska National Guard and North Slope Borough aircraft, and searched the lake on both September 6th and 7th. The highly specialized dive team used divers and a cadaver dog to thoroughly search for Keel and were not able to locate any human remains within the lake that the group had identified, or anywhere in the immediate area. The group searched the entire floor of the small lake and examined all vegetation found on the lake floor. Through physical examination of the area by divers, the item that the group believed to be a body from a Sonar image, was determined to not be human remains. The Alaska State Troopers continue to stand ready to assist our partners at the North Slope Borough with this search if they request our assistance.
Below you can read Liz Keel’s entire Facebook post:
“As many of you know we did do a search for Steve in the latter part of August We worked all winter to find an amazing team and we did We all worked together this spring and summer to get everything in place and I don’t mind saying it was a lot Part of the team traveled across the lower 48 and through Canada to get to Alaska Some flew in from the lower 48 Some of our team traveled all the way across Alaska and some are from Fairbanks They all gathered together and made the long difficult trip up the Dalton Hwy in rain and mud The weather didn’t cooperate very well but they were persistent got there set up camp and went searching They used cadaver dogs, sonar and a forensic device and they found Steve!!! in a lake! Alaska state troopers were alerted and started the process of activating divers (Alaska doesnt have any state trained divers that are part of the troopers or the Dept of Public safety They have to get a non profit group to go) Our team could have recovered Steve right then but Alaska troopers said no they would do the recovery Part of our team had to leave and part stayed to keep an eye on the area. They eventually had to leave also and unfortunately it took 2 weeks for the authorities to arrange travel for the divers. There were no authorities on site to guard or oversee the site. On the day the divers arrived I was told that their cadaver dog also alerted in the same place as the other 2 but they had to leave because the weather had turned. It was very foggy so they decided to return the next day to recover Steve. The next day they didn’t arrive until afternoon to search the lake. Late in the evening the authorities called to tell me they found nothing!! Since then none of the authorities or divers have contacted me or supplied the pictures videos or coordinates of the search but the divers have been busy posting information on Facebook evidently trying to distance themselves from the search since they missed him in the lake.
There have been 4 sonar experts that have reviewed the pictures from the lake and all agree it is human remains. So why didn’t the divers find and recover Steve?! I can’t even guess.
As you can imagine we are devastated. It has taken me a week to even speak about this part of it.
Since the search happened later in the summer we are in a difficult place to return immediately as the weather has already started turning towards winter. Thank you all for staying with us with prayers and messages and phone calls and just always lifting us up. It has meant the world! Please keep praying because we haven’t given up and will be doing everything we can moving forward to bring Steve home”
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