by Jay Wintermeyer
SPOKANE, Wash., December 10, 2015 - While DNA testing is not yet complete, it appears that Ukrainian authorities may have found the body of Dr. Jay Sloop, the Seventh-day Adventist physician from Yakima, Wash. who went missing while on a health training visit to the country in May, 2013.
The body was recovered from a building next to the park where Jay went missing Tuesday, May 14, 2013. Officials say the building was abandoned at the time of the doctor’s disappearance. Renovation work on the building recently began which led contractors to make the discovery while removing a wall in the basement of the building adjacent the ventilation shaft.
"We grieve with the Sloop family over this news," said Paul Hoover, Upper Columbia Conference president. "Jay was a light and an encouragement to so many in Yakima, the Northwest and around the world. I invite you to join me in praying for Jay’s entire family in this difficult time.”
Clues that helped police preliminarily identify the body include the clothes Jay was wearing the day of his disappearance and his wallet containing some identification. Police are currently conducting a forensic investigation to confirm the identification and attempt to determine more details surrounding Jay’s death.
Prior to his disappearance, Jay had been serving on a three-week mission trip with a team of health professionals helping the Adventist church in Kiev set up a lifestyle center. As was his custom, Jay went for an early-morning walk. His fellow team members became concerned when he did not arrive at the appointed time for breakfast.
An extensive search at the time, which involved hundreds of people, including U.S. Embassy personnel, blood hounds from Ukraine and Germany and a city-wide media blitz turned up no evidence leading to Jay’s whereabouts.
Jay served as a physician in Yakima, Wash. until he retired. In retirement he stayed actively involved in health outreach, including serving as the health ministries director for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and parts of northeastern Oregon.
Updated: 12-11-2015 to clarify this is a preliminary identification.