OMAK – A body found Thursday evening, April 11, east of town has been identified as that of a man missing for more than seven years.
Dental records were used to identify the body as that of Alzheimer’s patient Peter B. Greene, 79, Omak. He walked away from Apple Springs Senior Living the evening of Jan. 2, 2012.
The body was found on private property in a ravine off the end of Engh Road near the 90-degree corner at the intersection with Orchard View Drive, said Okanogan County Coroner Dave Rodriguez.
The location is about a mile from Apple Springs but within the area searched when Greene was reported missing.
“It’s a really tough location,” said Omak Police Chief Jeff Koplin. “You wouldn’t be able to see (the body) unless you were right on top of it.”
He said it appears Greene walked until the road ended and kept going until he came to a barbed wire fence. Since it was after dark when he disappeared, he might have seen lights from a nearby house and headed toward it, but ended up in the ravine.
The decomposed body was found by a person checking the area for a coyote den, said Okanogan County Sheriff Tony Hawley.
“The body was located under sagebrush and the reporting party stated he saw bones, then looked closer and observed a human skull with gold teeth,” Hawley said.
Deputies responded, contacted Rodriguez and assisted in removing the remains.
Rodriguez said Omak dentist Dr. Greg Grillo took X-rays of dental work and images were sent to the state odontologist for comparison with Greene’s dental records. That examination was done over the weekend.
“There does not appear to be any indication of trauma,” said Rodriguez. “He probably wandered. (The area) was flat, then it breaks down the hill.”
Greene’s family was notified last week that a body had been found and again once positive identification had been made, said Koplin and Rodriguez.
The coroner said he is working with Greene’s daughters, one of whom lives in the Twisp area and the other who is from Texas, on releasing the remains.
Daughter Mary McIvor, Twisp, could not be reached by The Chronicle’s deadline for comment.
Rodriguez said before the body was found, he had been working with the family to obtain a death certificate without the body.
In January 2012, an extensive search was launched for Greene after he left the care facility. Okanogan County Search and Rescue, deputies, Omak Police Department and various volunteers – including three pilots – assisted.
At the time, then-Sheriff Frank Rogers speculated Greene may have been given a ride somewhere, since no trace of him was found after several days of searching.
“This is a new experience for us, and we have no physical evidence or leads at this time,” said McIvor at the time. “We continue to rely on the alertness and involvement of this community and concerned citizens in areas through which Pete may be traveling. With your help, we may be able to bring this search to a happy ending.”
Greene’s family set up a Facebook page, “Friends of Peter B. Greene, Missing Person with Alzheimer’s.”
McIvor said the family appreciated the efforts of Rogers and deputies Michael Blake and Dave Rodriguez for keeping the search going. Rodriguez has since retired from the sheriff’s office and now is serving his second term as coroner.
She said her father had ever gone outside at night before and was not regarded by Apple Springs personnel as a flight risk.
Greene lived most of his life in Southern California, where his six children grew up. He lived for a couple years in San Carlos, in the Bay Area, and moved to Omak in March 2011, McIvor said.