DNA tests no help in ongoing search for missing retired trucker

| 1/23/2007

Another lead in the search for missing retired Kansas trucker Richard Lee Clark has turned up nothing.

That tip hinged on the May 2006 discovery of human remains near a roadside in Mesquite, TX. However, Clark's daughter, Kim Eastwood, told Land Line that the results of DNA comparison testing between the remains and members of her family have come back negative.

Eastwood received the results from investigators with the Mesquite Police Department on Friday, Jan. 19 - one year, three months and three days after her father's disappearance from the yard of her home near Pleasanton, KS.

Now, with time continuing to work against her and one of her best leads washed up, Eastwood still isn't sure where her dad's gone or what could've happened to him.

"I don't think my dad could've been gone this long," Eastwood said. "He would've found a way home by now."

Clark, a former OOIDA member, is believed to have wandered off following a family gathering at Eastwood's rural Kansas home on Oct. 16, 2005. Eastwood said her father, who was 67 years old and had diabetes and symptoms of Alzheimer's disease at the time of his disappearance, may not have been able to find his way home.

Since Clark's disappearance, officials have continued to receive tips and sightings. One of the most substantial tips was the discovery of the remains in Texas, which were found in a wooded area near the interstate. Using a clay model created by a forensic anthropologist, investigators were able to create a likeness from the remains of an individual that was strikingly similar to that of Clark.

Eastwood said a tip from a Land Line reader in the Mesquite area prompted her to contact investigators, who asked her to submit her DNA for testing in late May 2006. In June 2006, officials also asked for DNA samples from her aunt and uncle on her father's side, to eliminate the possibilities of a false reading.

Kim said the nearly eight-month wait for the DNA test results was excruciating.

"I started thinking, 'How am I going to feel?' " she said. "And I realized I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't. Either way I'm going to be in tears. But at least now, I'm not in limbo anymore."

Eastwood said she and her family have tried to stay hopeful that her father might still be found alive. Now, though, those hopes have dwindled and have been replaced by a need for closure.

"I'll just keep looking, I guess. At this point in time, what more can I do? I've done all I can do, and now I guess I'll leave it all in God's hands," she said. "In my heart, I know where he's at."

Anyone with information regarding Clark's case can contact the Linn County Sheriff's Department at (913) 795-2666. Additional information can be found on the National Center for Missing Adults Web site at www.missingadults.org.

 - By Aaron Ladage, staff editor