LA CUEVA, N.M. (KRQE) - For years many people in the Jemez Mountains thought thedisappearance of David Eley, 47, was a tragic accident, butopinions are changing after Eley's gun was found with the 'CookieBandit.'
Eley was camping in the San Antonio Springs area in the summerof 2006 when he vanished.
State police said his gun ended up in the hands of JosephBurgess and it was used to kill Sandoval County Sgt. JoeHarris.
Ray Andersen, the owner of the La Cueva Store, said he had manyconversations with Eley who arrived in the region in April2006.
"He came in the store quite often," Andersen said. "He was ahealthy guy; he would get fruits and vegtables—that sort ofthing."
Andersen said that Eley told him he was from Ohio.
"He was here to be by himself, to read, to mediate," Andersensaid. "He use to go to the Jemez Springs library and email hisfamily in Albuquerque just to stay in touch."
Those emails suddenly stopped coming in June, according toEley's sister. She later filed a missing persons report.
The locals said authorities spent a lot of time looking forEley.
Nearly a year after his disappearance, searchers found hiscampsite right next to a cliff.
"I thought he had gone over a cliff,"Andersen said.
Area residents said they thought Eley was simply the victim of aterrible accident. Locals claim that his campsite was undisturbedand his belongings were all there.
However, recent developments have changed some perspectives onEley's disappearance.
"I was fooled by Burgess. We all thought he was harmless. It'sobvious he's a very dangerous man. It's possible that he did meetup with Mr. Eley," Andersen said.
Eley had an apartment in Albuquerque near the University of NewMexico, according to missing persons report. However, the reportdoesn't specify if he was a student.
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