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Sheriff: Search for Missing Ashland Man is Over

87-year-old Harold Hardesty has been missing since April of last year—investigators believe he has dementia and may have been planning suicide.

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 2:11 PM
Updated: Apr 17, 2018 2:22 PM

ASHLAND, Ore. — After more than a year, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office (JCSO) has officially called off the search for 87-year-old Harold Hardesty, who was last seen on the evening of April 9, 2017.

A family member reported Hardesty missing on April 12 of last year. After 18 search missions and 745 person hours, JCSO still has found no sign of the missing man.

Detectives believe that Hardesty was planning to commit suicide, and must have followed through on that plan—although his body was never recovered. Family members have now come to share that belief, and they are planning a memorial service soon.

Surveillance footage from Hardesty's home in the 1200-block of Oak Street—just outside the Ashland city limits—showed Hardesty walking out on the morning of April 10. He was carrying a case which investigators believe contained a gun.

The case was later found at the edge of Bear Creek, just a short walk east of Hardesty's home. Investigators say that they think Hardesty must have taken his own life in or very near the creek.

Through the course of the investigation, investigators learned that Hardesty had dementia, and had begun to disply signs of 'declining mental health' in the weeks prior to his disappearance. He had also made efforts to obtain a new gun.

As detectives were trying to uncover Hardesty's state of mind and activities before his disappearance, JCSO search and rescue teams scoured the area by ground, water, and air—with no luck.

JCSO estimates that the multiple search attempts cost a total of $15,890.71.

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