A missing emergency room doctor from Missouri was found dead in Arkansas from an apparent gunshot wound, authorities confirmed Wednesday, but they’re 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 an aquatic park 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.
Surveillance video from the aquatic park 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, adding that authorities haven’t given them more details about the investigation.
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.
John Forsyth had recently gotten 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.
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.
“I’m grieving, I’m afraid,” his sister, Tiffany Andelin, wrote Monday, “and it feels like the world has tipped into sheer chaos.”