Timeline revealed in death of man found in Saunders County creek

Published: Jan. 9, 2017 at 12:25 PM CST
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The Saunders County Sheriff's Office is breaking down the timeline leading up to when the body of a man was found in a Saunders County creek Tuesday.

According to Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz, 42-year-old Sean Eddy was found underneath the ice near Highway 79 and County Road A.

The Sheriff's Office believes hypothermia played a factor. Sean's jacket was found just hours before his body.

"Sometimes when people get outside and hypothermia sets in they become disoriented. That was indicated by the jacket being taken off, because it was cold when he went missing," Sheriff Stukenholtz said.

His family told the Sheriff's Office Sean was on medication and could've become disoriented from it if he took too much. An autopsy has been scheduled.

Cheryl Eddy Husted, Sean's mom, last heard from her son on New Year's Day.

That same day, Chief Deputy Sheriff Steven Malina said two witnesses saw his car at Highway 79 and County Road A. At 5:30 p.m. he was inside the car, then at 8:30 p.m. he was not. Malina said during the time Sean was missing, he is not aware of anyone reporting the car suspicious.

Sean's mother went out of town to visit her mother on January 1st, but when she returned just a day and a half later she tried to call Sean several times but he did not answer. Sean lived at home with his mom and her husband.

He was also an Uber driver. Uber confirms with that family that the last day he checked in on the app was January 1st.

After New Year's Day, when Cheryl still had not heard from her son, she began to get worried. With the help of family, they searched everywhere. They called local hospitals, visited local churches and businesses, but did not find him.

Meanwhile, on January 4th, a deputy tagged Sean's car that sat on the side of the road. At that time family was not aware that it was there. The plates came back to Sean's mom. The Sheriff's Office generally gives people 48 hours to move a car before they contact them. "At no time did we deem his car suspicious," Malina said. "It is not unusual to have a car sitting on the side of the road during the winter months."

On January 6th, Sean's stepfather found his car on Highway 79 at County Road A, which is approximately 3 miles northwest of his home. Sean's mother said finding his car and not him was upsetting, but she tried to remain hopeful.

Inside the car, his keys were gone, but his phone was inside fully charged, according to Cheryl. Sean's family called people in his phone asking for their help or if they knew anything, but they had not heard from him either since January 1st.

Since there were no keys inside his car, the Sheriff's Office had a key made. "I went down, started the car. It was low on fuel, but it did run. There were no mechanical malfunctions," Malina said.

A missing person report was filed on January 6th. Sean was entered into a national database. "We had Nebraska State Patrol doing a parallel investigation with bank records. We looked at the criminal investigation as well. We wanted to do a search before we ramped up criminal activity on this," Malina said.

On January 7th, Cheryl along with family, friends and some law enforcement conducted a search, but did not find any clues.

At that time, Cheryl was hoping that someone picked Sean up or knew information about where he was. Unfortunately, she also had a bad feeling that he would be found in the area they were searching. "I felt that all along, but you hold out hope," Cheryl said.

On Monday, January 9th, the Sheriff's Office coordinated an extensive search for Tuesday morning. This time it included several members of law enforcement and others trained to conduct these types of searches.

A group of about 55 people, aided by a Nebraska State Patrol helicopter, searched for Eddy Tuesday near the area where his car was found.

A cadaver dog, trained to find human remains, was brought in. Crews were able to find his jacket near the creek, not far from where his car was left. Hours later, crews were digging holes in the ice to help the cadaver dog get a scent. Around 1:30 p.m. Sean's body was located underneath the ice. The Sheriff's Office said it would not have been found without the help of the dog.

Cheryl said she is very thankful for the people that helped out their family. They say, if it wasn't for them, they wouldn't have found him. "It is a tough time. I do say thank you to everyone," Cheryl said.

The Sheriff's Office is now waiting for autopsy results and continuing to follow up on leads.