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Monday, Sep. 22, 2014

Body is found

Sunday, March 3, 2002

CHARLESTON - More than two months after he disappeared and was presumed dead, Walter Gibbs will finally be laid to rest.

The body of the 74-year-old Alto Pass man was found Friday in Mississippi County.

"I hope the family can have some peace of mind now," said chief deputy Keith Moore of the Mississippi County Sheriff's Department.

Gibbs, who was believed to be in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, was last seen Dec. 11. He was driving to Thebes, Ill., to visit friends and apparently became lost.

On Jan. 4, police found his truck in a ditch in an area of Mississippi County called Thompson Bend, near the Mississippi River.

They also found his guitar and eventually his shoes.

Police and volunteers focused their efforts in that area, searching the river and using all-terrain vehicles on land.

Authorities theorized that Gibbs, who had heart problems, tried to climb the steep sides of the ditch, carrying his guitar.

Authorities believe Gibb's defibrillator may have kicked in, knocking him back into the ditch.

"Even a healthy person in good shape would have had trouble making that climb," Moore said.

Soon after the wreck, heavy rains raised the water level and Gibbs was apparently washed downriver.

When the water level dropped again, Moore said Gibbs' body was probably trapped in a dry location.

Recent rains caused a second rise in the water level.

"That's what washed him out," Moore said.

An attendant at Moore's Landing, a docking area about 15 miles south of where Gibbs' truck was found, spotted something in the water about 9:30 Friday morning.

Mississippi County Coroner Terry Parker examined the body and found no sign of foul play, Moore said.

Funeral arrangements are pending at Hileman and Parr Funeral Services in Jonesboro, Ill.