The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Can collector's body found in field


Last updated 6/29/2020 at 7:04pm

Kevin Wilson

The Curry County Sheriff's Department works the scene northeast of the U.S. 84/NM 467 intersection where the body of Bob Casey was found Saturday morning.

CLOVIS - Drones, dogs, hundreds of volunteers on foot and even a helicopter crew came out to search for Bob Casey after he went missing late Wednesday night.

The volunteers found the 83-year-old man's body Saturday morning in a field west of Clovis.

"With the heat and knowing that he was outside, we were being realistic today that the outcome might not be ideal," said Scott Casey, Bob's nephew. "But it was comforting seeing all the people who came out to help us. Clovis overwhelmed our entire family, from the police, sheriff, all the volunteers and the friends he had."

Lisa Kia, whose Archangel K9 kennel provided three dogs to help in the search, said Casey's body was found about 10:30 a.m. near the Clovis Fun Center off U.S. 84.

Kia said volunteers on Saturday began searching around Hillside Church at 14th and Mitchell streets, with the dogs leading them west, through Dennis Chavez Park. The dogs did much of the navigation, Kia said, but the body was found by people who continued west while the dogs were taking a water break.

The recent rains, Kia said, actually helped preserve the scents the dogs discovered, and in some cases the dogs indicated spots where they believe Casey bent down to pick something up or took a break at a park bench.

Family members confirmed the body was Casey's. Officials did not immediately speculate on a cause of death, but Scott Casey said authorities told the family no foul play was suspected.

Casey was well known around Clovis, if not by name by sight. He was often seen patrolling alleys and dumpsters searching for recyclable cans.

"He walks around all the time. It's nothing for him to walk 3 or 4 miles every day," said Kathy Meyers, Bob Casey's sister.

Meyers, of Amarillo, said her brother was seen at least three times on Wednesday - near his home in the 1500 block of Mitchell Street, and twice around the hospital on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

"Someone that he went to church with saw him about 11:30 (a.m. on Wednesday)," Meyers said. "He seemed fine, walking along, carrying the bag he used for cans."

About 10:30 Wednesday night, Meyers said Casey's Life Alert button was activated. Police began to search for him soon after, but he could not be located.

Meyers said her brother moved to Clovis from Amarillo in the early 1990s, soon after their mother died.

Meyers said her brother had a mild case of dementia and lifelong "special needs" issues that were never medically diagnosed. But she said he's lived on his own for years with a nurse checking on him regularly, along with caring neighbors.

"He's done fine for Bob," Meyers said. "I just think God watches over him."

Meyers said her brother did get confused sometimes, but seemed to recover quickly.

"If you spoke to him, he'd speak to you," Meyers said on Thursday morning as the search was heating up. "He loves little kids. He's always waving at kids and it makes his day when they wave back at him. He has a really kind heart."

Meyers said she and other family members visited Casey regularly, bringing him groceries, paying his bills and cleaning.

In addition to the neighbors and his nurse, she said he was a regular at West 21st Street Church of Christ near his home.

"He walks to church every Sunday morning," she said.

Meyers said family tried to encourage Casey to stop walking Clovis' streets in search of cans, but he declined their requests.

"He says it makes him extra money and gives him something to do and it keeps him walking, exercising."

Scott Casey said he and his dad came from Oklahoma to help with the search. They were nearby when word came the body had been found.

Casey said he was overwhelmed at Clovis' efforts in searching for his uncle.

"This community ... I've never, ever seen anything like this," he said. "My dad and I were blown away with the support we received from the police department, a gentleman from the fire department who brought his drone, the helicopter ...

"We had about 40 volunteers (Friday) evening. This (Saturday) morning we counted over 25 cars, each car had multiple people in it. We cannot say enough about Clovis. Everywhere we turned, somebody was willing to help."

Casey said family members are planning a small service in Clovis sometime this week.

Said Meyers: "Everybody has been so overwhelmingly kind through all of this. I know why he wanted to live here."


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