SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – After he was declared dead, Robby Peay‘s family had a headstone with his name and placed it on the family plot.

There is no one inside the grave, but that could change after a recent discovery.

Peay, who grew up in Provo, vanished in 1982 after escaping from a youth treatment center in Salt Lake City. 

After 40 years, his sister is still hoping for closure, as she spoke to ABC4 about his early days. Peay was the youngest member of the family and an adopted child.

“I know that they got a call and said that there was an 11th month old boy that they could adopt,” said Chris Skowran, an older sister.

Peay became the son his parents had always wanted. The adopted boy grew up in a house full of girls. Peay was told of his adoption early in life, but did not quite fit in with his dad’s lifestyle.

“It was a little bit not what we expected because my dad was into farming and animals and Robby ended up having hay fever really bad,” said Skowran.

But after his adopted father died in a car wreck with his own mother, Peay’s life took a turn for the worse.

“So my mom had him alone and he started skipping school and dabbling a little bit of, I don’t know what kind of drugs,” said his sister. “She was just having a hard time trying to keep him in school and not having problems with him.

Peay’s mother got him committed into a youth treatment center in Salt Lake City and the teen’s problems only got worse.

According to new accounts on October 7 of 1982, Peay “escaped… and has not been seen nor heard from since.” His mother said he is using the name of “Bobbert Casper” and was seen in Boulder Colorado. His mother was concerned that “something has happened to her son,” and asked for the police and public’s help.

“It was a lockdown facility,” said Skowran. “We still don’t know how he got out. Him and another boy ran away together. Somehow, they broke out of it and they took off.”

The other teen was caught shortly after the escape, but Peay was never seen again.

A decade later, it was still an active case, though there was still no sign of him.

A Provo police captain told a reporter, “My feeling all along is that he’s dead…. But you have to keep plugging away.”

His mother said, “It’s hard to think he’s dead but I think he probably is.”

With no sign of Peay, his mother had him officially declared dead in the 1990’s

“It was hard, really hard for my mom especially,” said Skowran. “He was the baby.”

Robby Peay’s disappearance turned into a cold case. But 40 years later, Provo police got a tip of a John Doe who was buried in Grand County. That part of the story will continue Thursday.