Foul play not suspected in death of Haines Junction man

Yukon's coroner says the body of Darrell Richard Brown, 44, was found Sunday evening near the Dezadeash River. Relatives has reported him missing on Thursday.

The body of 44-year-old Darrell Richard Brown was found Sunday near the Dezadeash River

Volunteers search for Darrell Richard Brown, 44, at the Dezadeash River near Haines Junction over the weekend. Yukon's coroner says Brown's body was found near the river on Sunday evening. (Deanna Lee Mazur)

The family of Darrell Richard Brown says a local helicopter pilot, volunteering his time, spotted Brown's body Sunday evening near the Dezadeash River, in the Haines Junction, Yukon, area.

"If it wasn't for them, we would still be looking," said Tommy Millspaugh, Brown's father.

Police said Brown was reported missing on Thursday. (Yukon RCMP/Facebook)

Yukon RCMP issued a news release earlier on Sunday saying that Brown, 44, was missing and was last seen in Haines Junction on Thursday.

Yukon's coroner confirmed in a statement Monday that Brown's body was found on Sunday evening, "after an intensive community search."

Foul play is not suspected, the coroner says. 

Discovered missing

Millspaugh says he was the first to notice something was amiss when he dropped by his son's apartment on Wednesday, as he often did.

"He had a drinking problem, and I always go up there to check every morning before I go to work," Millspaugh said.

The door was unlocked and there was no sign of Brown, but Millspaugh initially didn't think much of it. When he returned to Brown's place on Thursday, though, everything was just the same. 

He also found Brown's house keys on a table beside the TV.

"Then I knew there was something wrong," Millspaugh said.

He locked his son's door, and checked the mailbox, "because he doesn't check it too often."

Organizing the search

Millspaugh then went and picked up his wife from work.

They went to police to report that Brown was missing. By Friday, they had spread the word through Haines Junction. 

Over the weekend, volunteers made a list of places to search for Brown. (Deanna Lee Mazur)

"That was my day off, so I got a lot of people together and we start searching, going around, but it wasn't really organized," he said.

"I never knew so many people lived here ... I couldn't believe how many people pulled together on short notice."

RCMP officers also joined in the search, but the force says it was really a community-led effort.

"It was determined that sufficient volunteer resources were already engaged in the search, and additional resources were not required at that time," RCMP said in a statement.

"Had the search continued beyond Sunday, the situation would have been re-assessed, and additional resources may have been considered."

Millspaugh said the search eventually became more organized over the weekend. The volunteers used maps and lists to keep track of where different groups had gone looking.

The local MLA, Wade Istchenko, also enlisted the help of the Canadian Rangers, Millspaugh said.

"Everybody just chipped in. It was just amazing — I couldn't believe that so many people showed up," he said.

Relatives said Brown's body was spotted from the helicopter after 6 p.m. Sunday, near the Dezadeash River.

"What he was doing there, I don't know," Millspaugh said.

"But it's under investigation, they're checking that out. That's the word I got from the RCMP."

With files from Cheryl Kawaja and Sandi Coleman