The Search for Missing Man Tied to Park County

Westminster man missing since April 11

By Christine Ford

The only lead to a Westminster, Colo., man’s disappearance may lie in the last contact with his Blackberry device, recorded at Badger Mountain just east of Wilkerson Pass in southeastern Park County.

Westminster resident Jeremy J. Griess, 39, was last seen around noon on April 11.

According to a Web site set up to assist in his search, a check of his cell phone by Commnet revealed that it registered a signal in the Badger Mountain area on April 11 and April 14, when contact with the device was lost.

Griess is a mountain biker, fisherman and hiker who is familiar with the Eleven Mile Reservoir and Canyon area, said Ted Griess, his father, speaking by phone from Nebraska. The senior Griess said his son had been staying with a college friend in Westminster until his divorce was final and his Littleton townhome became available again.

Original reports placed the missing man in the Woodland Park cell phone tower vicinity, until further technical analysis revealed the Badger Mountain signal.

Flyers with his picture went up from Woodland Park to Hartsel. Friends and family launched a Web site,, and Facebook page to assist in the search. According to the site, members of local mountain biking clubs were the first to go out looking for Griess, although initial efforts were hampered by heavy spring snow.

The Rampart Range Road and Phantom Canyon Road in Teller County were searched. The Teller County Sheriff’s Office led an extensive volunteer effort throughout the county and adjacent areas on April 24. With the assistance of the Air Force Rescue Co-ordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which mapped and gridded the search area, volunteers drove local roads and checked trailheads, including those on Park County Road 77.

A helicopter from Colorado Vertical Tours in Colorado Springs also participated, flying over the Badger Mountain area for two hours with no results. The search has encompassed the main roads around both Spinney Mountain Reservoir and Eleven Mile Reservoir.

The search is focusing on locating Griess’s vehicle, a black 1999 two-door Honda Accord with a bike rack on the roof, Colorado license plate number 940 JSE. It is not believed the two-wheel-drive vehicle would be off the main roads, especially considering the muddy conditions prevalent at that time. The cell phone tower quadrant he last registered in is northwest of Lake George, east of Hartsel, and north of Eleven Mile State Park. This area is criss-crossed with an extensive network of forest service roads and has little residential usage beyond the U.S. 24 corridor.

Park County Undersheriff Monte Gore said Eleven Mile State Park officers, Park County sheriffs’ deputies and Park County Search and Rescue participated in actively looking for the vehicle, checking back roads around Badger Mountain and Eleven Mile.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family,” said Gore. “We hope they find him alive and well.”

But he admitted that four weeks without any financial activity on Griess’s bank accounts was “not a good sign”.

Griess, a Minden, Neb., native, is about 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 165 pounds, and has brown hair and hazel eyes. He has a small scar above his lip.

Anyone with specific information regarding this case is asked to contact the Westminster, Colo., Police Department at 303-658-4360.

Griess’s mother, Wanda LaPage, has set up a contact e-mail of His family is continuing to follow up on all leads and ask that “everyone continues spreading the word about Jeremy.” The Web site has a downloadable flyer for Park County residents who wish to post it.

Griess is believed to be dressed in jeans, T-shirt and boots and not prepared for dealing with the elements at this altitude.

“It just doesn’t seem fair,” said his father, when describing law enforcement policies regarding missing persons. “When an adult goes missing, then the police assume they have the right to do that. But that’s just not the case with my son. He was not dressed for the weather. I believe his life was in danger.”

Griess was referring to an article on the Web site taken from a Nebraska TV story in which Westminster Police Department Investigator Cheri Spottke was quoted as saying: “(Griess) could have decided he was just fed up with life and needed a break and wanted to travel and live in Timbuktu, and that’s not a crime.”

The senior Griess, who will travel from Nebraska to Colorado next week to handle his son’s affairs, said: “I don’t have any idea what could have happened to Jeremy. We sit and wait and a thousand scenarios play out in my mind. It’s just heartbreaking.”

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