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Missing teen returns to Pagosa

Staff Writer

Seventeen-year-old Dillon McKee, who went missing from Pagosa in the early hours of Feb. 14, was found safe Sunday in Englewood, Colo., near Denver, after calling his mother.

And while the investigation into the matter remains ongoing, law enforcement involved with the case have determined McKee left willingly.

McKee was reported missing at about 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, according to Det. Brandon Bishop with the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office. McKee had last been seen earlier that morning.

After Cpl. Jake Beech took the report of the missing juvenile, Bishop and Undersheriff Rich Valdez said officials began an investigation that included a search of McKee’s house and the area by a search and rescue team and ACSO staff that lasted into Friday morning.

The investigation revealed that, earlier that morning, McKee was playing video games with a friend at his home in the Hatcher Lake area when he went into his bedroom and locked the door, Bishop said.

Later, McKee’s window was found unlocked, with footprints leading from the window to a set of tire tracks that did not belong to any vehicles at the residence, Bishop explained.

Despite the footprints being partially melted at the time of the investigation Thursday, Bishop said he believed there were two sets of footprints — possibly McKee’s and those of a woman he was with.

At 3:35 a.m., McKee used his debit card to purchase $45 worth of fuel at the Giant gas station. Bishop added that McKee was also seen using his cell phone on video footage from the gas station, and was seen in the company of a female.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for McKee’s cell phone records, but Bishop noted the records were delivered following McKee’s call to his mother from Englewood.

Over the course of the days McKee was missing, Bishop said ACSO staff issued a lookout throughout the Four Corners region and Colorado, entered McKee into the Colorado Crime Information Center database, followed up on several dozen leads and interviewed those McKee was in contact with via the computer.

Information was also disseminated to local media and to residents of the Hatcher Lake area through the ACSO’s citizen alert system, Valdez said.

“We didn’t know what the circumstances were,” Valdez said, explaining that, at the time, they were not sure if McKee was hurt, had been taken back to the Hatcher area, or had run away.

Unfortunately, Valdez said, the situation did not meet the Department of Justice’s criteria for an Amber Alert to be issued, which includes age requirements, a reasonable belief that an abduction has occurred, and a belief that the child is in imminent danger, among other factors.

“We didn’t ever establish any other reason to believe it wasn’t a runaway,” Bishop said of the investigation.

Then, on Sunday afternoon, McKee contacted his mother, Amy McKee, reportedly from a Wal-Mart in Englewood. At that point, the mother contacted law enforcement in Englewood, and the family reported to local law enforcement that the juvenile had been found.

According to Investigator Kevin Sage with the Professional Standards Bureau of the Englewood Police Department, a detective interviewed McKee following the phone call, with McKee initially reporting that he had been kidnapped.

Sage said McKee then changed his story and, when pressed about it, admitted to making up the kidnapping story.

Reportedly, McKee had made contact with a 21-year-old female online and talked her into coming to Pagosa Springs to pick him up, then spent several days with her, Sage said.

“He was a willing participant to come up here,” Sage said.

The EPD’s investigation is ongoing, Sage said, and there has been no determination made if McKee will be charged with false reporting.

The investigation in Archuleta County is also continuing, Valdez said. Since the teen returned to Pagosa Springs, Valdez and Bishop said McKee and his family have declined to speak to the ACSO.

Valdez said it has not yet been determined if a crime was committed in Archuleta County regarding the incident.

Despite the case not being officially closed, Valdez said he is content with how the incident was handled.

“In this situation, we did everything we could,” he said. “Our guys did a really good job.”

Valdez said that, when a person goes missing, several criteria are looked at in determining the best course of action, including age and whether or not it was an abduction by a family or a stranger.

In this case, Valdez said he authorized staff to work overtime to follow leads because it was a missing juvenile.

“For this incident, everything went pretty smooth,” Valdez said, acknowledging the ACSO lacks the manpower of other, larger agencies. “We did everything we were capable of doing.”

Valdez also thanked the other area agencies that aided in the search and investigation.

On the Saturday during the incident, however, Amy McKee levied allegations against local law enforcement that the family was not being kept up to date and that, “it is as if my family does not exist.”

When asked about the allegations, Valdez said the detectives were in regular contact with the family in person, as well as via phone and text.

“We did a lot. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes,” Valdez said.

The McKee family declined to comment on the incident to SUN staff, with Jon Eliason, Amy McKee’s fiance, speaking for the family.

“I am in fear for my family’s life,” Eliason said, adding, “At this point, we feel it’s better to not go too deep into it.”

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on February 21, 2013.
  • Jon Eliason

    “Randi,

    I just wanted to comment on the one sided reporting that has been published online.

    First many calls and texts that we placed went unanswered.

    As for declining to talking to the ACSO, we were told that they would give us a couple of days to get back to them, as Detective Bishop said and understood, we had been traumatized enough.

    Since we know that you would prefer to report accurate information, we would now address what was reported incorrectly by your article updating Dillon’s return.

    1. No search of the McKee residence was conducted.

    2. The unknown footprints did not go from Dillon’s window to unknown tire tracks. There was an unknown set of foot prints that we discovered and took a picture of. This picture was forwarded to Detective Bishop in case it helped with the investigation.

    3. There were also unknown tire tracks (not belonging to any of our vehicles) on the road by the end of the driveway and showing as if a u-turn was made. We forwarded these pictures and information to Det. Bishop as well, in case it helped.

    4. We were informed the day we reported Dillon missing that they had contacted his phone carrier via a warrant for all of Dillon’s phone records. We were told that they could possibly receive them by the end of the next day due to the missing child circumstances. When we followed up with Bishop on this, he said it could now take 7-10 days. We called Sprint at this point to see if we could get them to release the information sooner. Sprint informed us that they did not have the service connected with the phone account. The number to the correct carrier was obtained, easily, via the internet. We spoke with the customer service rep of the correct carrier. While still on the phone with Sprint. Brandon Bishop was texted the information that they had a search warrant for the wrong phone carrier and that we were on the phone with Sprint at that very moment verifying this. The customer service rep at I-wireless was happy to provide the number for the person who was having continual contact with him from 9 pm on Feb 13 through the time when his phone was shut off. Dillon did not turn his phone back on during the time he was gone. We searched online to find the person who the phone number belonged to and came up with an address in Aurora, Colorado.

    The Englewood police stated directly to Dillon’s mother that they were closing the case and were not going to press charges on anyone. Dillon’s mother was just happy that he was coming home. Charges could have been filed…according to Colorado Law. But the focus was to get Dillon home safe.

    I can only suggest you check out your sources of information. The Englewood police informed Amy directly that they were not filing any charges…..So, are you saying that the Archuleta county sheriffs office is planning on filing charge?. If so, what exactly are those charges? They told us themselves, you can’t charge a teen who leaves home willingly or not even willingly, with anything. Please do share how the law has changed since they spoke these words? I don’t believe that the Englewood police would say one thing to a mother and then change it in a newspaper article. I guess we need to give that particular investigator a call and ask why he would do that?

    Don’t forget, while all of this was going on, emotions were high and not all things said or texted may have come across directly or clearly and Dillon’s mom was absolutely driven and focused on finding her son. Every clue we had or had presented to us was followed up on our side. Thus we ended up getting the information that led us to the Denver area. That is how Dillon was located.”

    I sincerely believe an apology is due to Dillon’s Mom and that a correction to the original story you reported on, be published.

  • Anonymous

    I Believe John and Amy you should be appoligizing to the ACSO, Det. Bishop and everybody who helped on this case they put in serious hours in on this case for a boy who just wanted to go to denver and have a good time! You both are just upset cause you made yourself look like FOOLS!!!

    • Jon Eliason

      Anonymous, I see you are influenced easily. We have thanked Detective Bishop, more than once I might add and he is aware of our gratitude.

    • Jon Eliason

      Just by that comment, something tells me you don’t have children. Every day new events unfolded. Things changed over the course of those next few days. Observation:? Is the Sun your ONLY resource of news? Oh, by the way, What was I supposed to apologize, exactly, for?

    • http://www.facebook.com/shane.tuller.1 Shane Tuller

      Hey, look! Another [person] who thinks they know the whole situation! Amazing how many omniscient people there are in the world.

      Ever consider the ACSO officers are PAID to do this, are REQUIRED to do this, and my tax dollars MANDATE that they do their jobs?

      But that’s a dumb question. Of course you wouldn’t have considered this, because that requires thinking, and as we all can see… you can’t.

      Oh, and I bet I know exactly as much about this situation as you do, and I do not presume to judge those involved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.cobb.98 David Cobb

    If you say that you fear for your life, there must have been more to the story than just a missing 17 year old. I would think digging deeper would be very wise.

  • Doesnt Matter

    Even though they are paid to do their job, it was still a waste of their time, when they could be something else that could of been more important than someone running off because they were unhappy here..O h people are so stupid!!

  • The Law

    Lying to the police about kidnapping is a felony and this was a WASTE of time and tax money runaway used to b a crime in colorado your kid should b in jail

  • John Doe

    Man this kid is getting all the attention he could have ever hoped for from this! Lock him up, thatll get him all the attention he deserves.

    • M.A.

      I personally know this child, being a student at PSHS and I with no respect at all for you, disagree. He is not only my peer, but a nice kid and although this MAY have been an act of gaining attention, he does not deserve to be “locked up,” as you put it. I’m sure Dillion was just intimidated by law enforcement officers when being pressed, therefore made up a story. I think the allegations you have conducted in this comment are way out of line. i suggest you reconsider this comment. It was unnecessary and down right rude.

      • Concerned Citizen

        So running away from home, resulting in a search and an investigation requiring officers to work overtime should get a “Bad boy! Don’t do that again.”? If he was indeed kidnapped, it should be pursued, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. It seems that he left of his own free will, and I am not far out of high school, and know well what rebellion is. But when you rebel on that scale, you cannot allow the person to feel that it was acceptable. It requires a strong response as it is a big problem in this community.

      • http://www.facebook.com/david.cobb.98 David Cobb

        So you say you “personally know the “child”” and he is your “peer”, doesn’t say much for your thought processess or your knowledge of parental matters. As you both are “children” I would have to say both of your reasonings and his childish pranks leave me to belive you both still have a lot of growing up to do. So when you choose to comment to protect your friend child, please just delete and leave it alone.
        He should be charged for false reported and made to pay back a protion of the cost either by money or community service.