Illinois Man Still Missing, Last Seen in Reed Point - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Illinois Man Still Missing, Last Seen in Reed Point

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COLUMBUS, Mont. -

The search for an Illinois man who was last heard from in Montana at the end of April, continues this weekend. Paul Batson, 49, was reported missing out of Bozeman. His car was found in Reed Point on Sunday, April 29.

Sgt. Randy Smith with the Stillwater County Sheriff's Office told KULR-8 he, along with the search and rescue team, are not giving up on finding the Illinois man, alive.

"On the 30th, one of our deputies had been in Reed Point and we actually received a call from the gas station in Reed Point, the Sure Stop, they had seen Batson's car parked in Reed Point and called it in as a suspicious vehicle," explained Sgt. Randy Smith.

The sergeant told KULR-8 that deputies went to inspect the car after they received the call from the gas station. Sgt. Smith said the department received a delayed hit, later that evening, through the Criminal Justice Information Network. The hit was that the car found was registered to Batson. Sgt. Smith explained that was the moment the investigation began. "We've conducted four different searches at this point. And we have another search probably for this Saturday."

The sergeant explained that the search of Reed Point is complete. The search area, though, has expanded to rural areas now. "We are concentrating on an area based off some missing person information from search and rescue, and we're expanding just that area out. We're not moving to a whole different area or anything like that."

Sgt. Smith told KULR-8 that Batson works for the postal service. He said Batson could possibly walk 10 miles a day because of his job. "That's what has driven us to believe he could be quite a ways away."

The case has been labeled as "suspicious." The reason? "A lot of people have asked 'why have you said that this is an odd case and is very suspicious' because we haven't come across anything. We've done the normal things that law enforcement does when there's a missing person. We've looked at financials, the cell phone thing, we've done all of that and it's given us nothing," Sgt. Smith said.

When asked if this investigation could turn from "search and rescue" into "search and recovery," the sergeant explained, "Unless we have a lead that says we found Mr. Batson deceased, then it becomes a recovery."

Sgt. Smith explained that the people searching for Batson are all volunteers and that they could search up to 500 acres in a day.

If you have any information regarding Paul Batson's whereabouts, you're asked to contact Sgt. Smith at 406-322-5326.

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