RANDLE, Wash. – A gruesome discovery made in eastern Lewis County has a small community fearing that one of their own may have fallen victim to foul play.
Sheriff’s deputies discovered a body buried in a shallow grave while they were searching for a missing 16-year-old boy. The missing teenager has been identified to Q13 News by family and friends as Benjamin Eastman from Randle.
Investigators are now looking to interview one of the missing child’s friends, and the friend's older brother, who may have already left the area.
Meanwhile, the missing boy’s friends are holding out hope he will be found safe but worry it may be too late.
“He was very kind,” said classmate Carly King. “Just a guy everybody liked.”
“He was always joking,” said friend Peyton White. “He was a good kid, he was funny.”
Teenagers in Randle say Benjamin Eastman is a kind-hearted, friendly teenager who would do anything for a buddy.
“If you ever needed something he was there,” said White. “He’d give you the shirt off his back.”
This past weekend Lewis County sheriff’s deputies got a report from Eastman’s father that he hadn’t heard from his boy since June 23.
Then Thursday afternoon law enforcement, searching property owned by a relative of the friend, found a shallow grave just south of town.
While the county coroner has not made a positive identification of the remains, Eastman’s friends wonder who else it could be.
“You think it’s him because he’s the only one missing around here,” said King.
Deputies say the last person to see Benjamin was one of his closest friends – but now that a body has been recovered, the friend and his older brother are nowhere to be found.
“We received information that the two of them left the area,” said Lewis County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bruce Kimsey. “Of course they could have gone camping or left the area but we’re making it very clear we need to talk to them now.”
Deputies insist as of Friday there is no concrete connection between Eastman’s disappearance and the recovered remains. Now the investigation may hinge on what the missing teen’s friend and sibling have to say to detectives.
“It’s pretty crazy,” said King, “You see it happening in other places but you don’t think it’s going to happen in your home town.”
“I just hope they find him and justice takes its course,” added White.
The county coroner says their office will perform an autopsy and may be able to positively identify the recovered remains later this weekend.
The sheriff's office said in a news release that it is trying to locate the missing boy's friend, who has been identified as Benito Marquez and goes by the name Benny, and Benny's brother, Jonathan Adamson, 21.
Anyone with information regarding the missing 16-year-old or the other two individuals are urged to contact the sheriff's office at (360) 748-9286.