PROVO, Utah (ABC4) – John Everett Booth walked away from his family in 1970 and never turned back.
In October 2021, the puzzle about his disappearance started to take shape.
“We confirmed that it was human remains,” said Utah County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Cannon. “There was a skull and other bones that looked consistent with human bones.”
Several pieces of identification were found next to the remains. The name of John Everett Booth was on several of the items found. Sgt. Cannon said he may be around 70 years old.
“One thing that was clear from the very beginning was that they had been there for an extended period of time,” he said. “The condition of the remains was completely skeletal.”
Sgt. Cannon said the remains were made in October in a swampy area near the Geneva Road in Orem.
Over the next few months, investigators attempted to learn more about Booth, including his family.
But very little was found. It appeared he lived in a Provo apartment in 1991. Sgt. Cannon said there’s evidence he utilized the services of a mental health facility in Utah County. He said Booth may have died around 1999.
Authorities learned he’s possibly from Iowa based on a 2007 obituary of his father. Booth’s name appeared in the obituary and listed Provo as his home. In 1969, a James Everett Booth, 29 was arrested in Waterloo, Iowa. The address is the same as his mother who died in Waterloo.
The information showed a brother and his family. A nephew by the name of James Booth Jr. was found in California.
“No one in our family has seen him from about 1970,” the nephew told ABC4. “One day he packed up and left and no one heard from him.”
The nephew said his grandfather hired a private investigator and learned Booth lived in a homeless shelter in Ogden. He said letters to Booth were never answered. It appeared he wanted to be left alone.
“He’s got some mental difficulties that caused him not to trust people and he just went away,” said Booth Jr. “It’s not really shocking. We all figured he was dead already. For some reason, we never heard from him.”
Sgt. Cannon said investigators were able to find family members 24 hours after they made a plea to the public for help. He said the medical examiner could not determine if the remains were those of Booth. Further DNA testing may have to be done.