St. Louis County Police said it cannot release much new information regarding the continued search for a missing father and son that led authorities to the Moselle area on Friday night.
Public Information Officer Randy Vaughan told The Missourian on Monday that he could not elaborate on why St. Louis County detectives arrived at the Chouteau Claim access in the Moselle area on Friday evening and were transported from where the Meramec and Bourbeuse rivers meet to the nearby Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad trestle that runs parallel to St. Mary’s Road, which provides access to Chouteau Claim.
St. Mary’s Road connects to Highway AH near Moselle Road in Moselle, which is northeast of St. Clair.
Vaughan said authorities are continuing their search for 36-year-old Michael Hill and his 16-year-old son, David Hill. The two disappeared from the Pacific Palisades area of the Meramec River on July 2 and have not been seen since.
The St. Louis County Police Department issued an endangered persons advisory late last week for the Illinois man and his son who were reported missing at the Meramec River access at Pacific Palisades. The Hills were last seen at about 12:45 p.m. on July 2.
Police said Hill’s wife reported them missing after Hill and his son told family members they were going fishing and did not return. The men were last seen on foot in the area of the Meramec River access carrying bags that possibly contained fishing equipment, police said.
Officers searched the river in that area extensively, but found no evidence that the Hills had drowned.
Then, shortly before 6 p.m. on Friday, St. Clair Fire Protection District water rescue crews were called to Chouteau Claim to assist law enforcement there. Authorities included personnel from the missing persons unit of the St. Louis County Police Department as well as from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, who were taken by boat to the area near the railroad trestle.
Earlier in the day, a passing boater said he found personal effects from one of the Hills.
“This was just part of the investigation,” Vaughan said. “We’ve received all kinds of varying leads in this case, and this one was a good lead. It didn’t lead us to the missing persons, and we’re continuing our investigation.”
Vaughan said that as of Monday, the Hills’ whereabouts still were unknown.
What personal effects may have been found were not revealed by authorities, but unconfirmed reports stated it was either a gym bag or backpack containing some type of identification belonging to one of the men.
At the Chouteau Claim access on Friday evening, Franklin County Sheriff’s Major Mike Copeland told The Missourian that the boater allegedly had found some personal effects from either Michael or David Hill on the bank of the Meramec River near the railroad trestle.
“As I understand it, someone found some property of Mr. Hill’s,” Copeland said on Friday. “It was found near the railroad trestle. Right now, it’s just being checked out. We don’t know if it’s anything or not.”
Copeland said St. Louis County is heading the investigation.
“What was found (near Chouteau Claim) does not change our thought process about this case,” Vaughan said. “We don’t know where they are, but we’re treating this as a missing person’s investigation and not a drowning. We don’t believe this is criminal in nature. The wife has continued to work with us since the beginning.
“We feel compelled to continue our search and rescue efforts. We want to find them and get this all behind us.”
Two St. Clair fire boats as well as a rescue boat from the Robertsville State Park area were put into the water on Friday evening. Crews used the boats to search the river in the area between Chouteau Claim and the state park. The boats came off the water at about dusk.
The St. Louis County Police Department issued an endangered persons advisory for the Hills earlier in the day on Friday.
Michael Hill is a white male, about 6 feet tall, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a long beard. He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt under a flannel button-up shirt and blue jeans.
David Hill is a white male, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 140 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. He also was wearing a white T-shirt under a flannel button-up shirt, blue jeans and Converse shoes.
Anyone with any information related to the endangered missing persons should immediately dial 911 to contact the nearest law enforcement agency or call the St. Louis County Police at 314-615-5360.