The Justice Files: Reed Jeppson simply vanished

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – It is one of the oldest missing person cases in Utah.

In 1964, Reed Jeppson left the house to go feed his dogs. He never returned.

The case went cold after years of investigation. In 2010 it was reopened but there was little development. Two years later, police received a tip of bones that were found in a gully near where Jeppson once lived.

“Because of the nature of the case I can’t get into that specifically,” officer Josh Ashdown told reporters in 2012. “But enough of a tip that it was worth coming out here with some cadaver dogs and digging.”

Salt Lake City police were looking for more bones that had been found in someone’s backyard.

The digging was at a gully near 1500 East and 1400 South in Salt Lake City. It caught Suzanne Tate’s attention.

“We lived not far from here,” Tate said as she watched police dig with backhoes. “We lived a half a block from here.”

Reed Jeppson grew up in a large Salt Lake City family. Their father was a local doctor and they are a tight-knit bunch.

At the time of his disappearance, Reed was a sophomore at East High School.

His sister who talked with ABC4 in November distinctly remembered that day. It was a Sunday.

“He comes into the kitchen and opens up a can of dog food,” Tate said. “I ask him ‘where are you going?’ and he says ‘I’m going to go feed the dogs and I says ‘hurry back because we’re going to have dinner in a half-hour,’ and he says ‘oh I’ll be back.” He walked out the door and we never saw or heard from him again.”

With no sign of him, the family filed a police report that same evening. The search for Reed Jeppson began.

According to news accounts from 1964 police in three states had been notified of the eagle scout’s disappearance.

He was last seen with two German short-hair pointer dogs. One was a puppy, the other fully grown. He also had $60 in savings according to news stories.

Ten days passed and there were “still no leads.” There were reports of people seeing the dogs but the tip was unfounded.

Police in Missouri were notified that he may be going there. According to a 1964 police report, Jeppson worked at a ranch in Wyoming and had grown fond of a girl from Missouri. But once again, there was no sighting of Jeppson.

By late November, police were still investigating his disappearance. One news story stated police found there was “no indication of foul play.”

Soon, anguish replaced the happiness once seen in the Jeppson family.

“When you have someone missing, the victim, the missing person isn’t the only victim,” said Tate. “The whole family starts to suffer. First, there’s worrying. Then that turns into frustration and after years and years, despair sets in.”

The case remained active for a few more years and eventually, it turned into a cold case.

But then that tip in 2012 gave detectives a new direction and new hope for Tate.

“Anytime I hear there are remains found, I’m on the phone,” Tate said in 2012. “I know he wants to be found. It just takes time.”

Thursday, the story of Jeppson will continue as details of the dig are revealed fueling more speculation.

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