A missing emergency room doctor from Missouri was found dead in Arkansas from an apparent gunshot wound, authorities confirmed Wednesday. But they are still investigating what happened in the week since he was last seen.
A kayaker discovered the body of 49-year-old Dr. John Forsyth on Tuesday in Beaver Lake, a large reservoir in northwestern Arkansas, the Benton County Sheriff's Office said. No further information would immediately be released, authorities said, and they didn't specify if he was shot by someone else or if the wound was self-inflicted.
The doctor’s unlocked vehicle with his wallet, two phones, a laptop and other items had been found Sunday near a city-run public pool in Cassville, the town in the Missouri Ozarks where he worked, said his brother Richard Forsyth. The body was found at a location about 20 miles (32 kilometers) away, Arkansas authorities say. Cassville is about 200 miles south of Kansas City.
Surveillance video from the pool shows John Forsyth’s black Infiniti pulling into the parking lot, and a white SUV can be seen parking near him a few minutes later, his brother said in an interview Wednesday.
“We’re devastated, especially at the nature of his passing,” Richard Forsyth said. He said Wednesday evening that police had given the family no new details other than investigations into his brother’s death and how he went missing were continuing in both states.
The last time the two brothers met in person was at dinner on Wednesday, May 17.
“I told him this is the happiest I’d seen him in a long time. His divorce was final May 11, and I think that gave him energy for the future,” Richard Forsyth said in an earlier interview.
John Forsyth had recently become engaged to be married, his brother said, and his fiancée was the last known person to communicate with him, texting at around 7 a.m. on Sunday, May 21.
The doctor was reported missing that same day when he didn't arrive for work at Mercy Hospital, police have said.
Richard Forsyth said the family was mystified by his brother's death and rejected the theory that he might have taken his own life.
“I don’t believe it,” he said. “John would never do that. I won’t accept that possibility.”
John Forsyth was the father of eight children, his brother said, and was so dedicated to his work that he never missed a day, stayed in an RV near the hospital when he was on call, and was never late for his difficult shifts in the emergency room.
His brother-in-law Jason Musgrave in a call with The Associated Press Wednesday from Ozark, Missouri, also rejected the idea of John Forsyth dying by suicide.
“I feel like it is foul play. I feel like it has to have been,” Musgrave said, adding that it was also hard to imagine that anyone who knew him would want to hurt him.
“He was funny and engaging and the life of a party,” Musgrave said. He said the news that his brother-in-law's body had been found had hit the family like a “bus full of bricks.”
Messages seeking comment from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and Cassville police on Wednesday were not immediately returned.
When the doctor's vehicle was found, several law enforcement agencies searched about a 9-mile (15-kilometer) radius around the aquatic park using people, dogs and drones. Forsyth's family set up a Facebook page seeking information.
Gina Forsyth-Farlaino said her brother was smart, confident, loved to help people and was devoted to his family. In the days since his disappearance, she said the family has heard at least three stories of people who he persuaded not to take their own lives. But Forsyth never mentioned those cases to his family, she recalled in an interview Wednesday from Price, Utah.
“I miss him terribly,” Forsyth-Farlaino said. “And I’m devastated that he’s not here.”
Associated Press writer Lisa Baumann contributed from Bellingham, Washington.