FBI assisting in Yakima Co. missing persons case; mom says son is believed to be dead

FBI assisting in Yakima Co. missing persons case; mom says son is believed to be dead
Josiah Hilderbrand (L) and Jon Cleary

YAKIMA CO., Wash. – It’s been about three weeks since Josiah “Jo” Hilderbrand and Jon Cleary were reported missing in Yakima County.

The California men were last seen on their way to the Gorge Ampitheater to see Dead & Company, a band made up of former Grateful Dead members. Authorities said they never made it to the concert.

On Friday, KAPP-KVEW learned that the FBI has joined the effort to solve the case of their disappearance.

The day of show, June 8, their car — a light blue 2004 Honda Civic hybrid with California plates — was found abandoned in an orchard in the 8100 block of Lateral B Road outside Wapato, said Casey Shilperoort, a spokesperson for the Yakima County Sheriff’s Office.

Since then, detectives have been following up on leads and trying to determine where they might have gone.

On Friday, Steve Bernd with the FBI’s Seattle Office confirmed the FBI is assisting with the investigation at the request of the sheriff’s office.

“The FBI routinely offers assistance to our law enforcement partners, in order to provide additional personnel and specialized resources,” Bernd said in a statement. “As the investigation is ongoing, he said no additional information is available at this time.”

Josiah’s mother, Liz Hilderbrand, said in a Facebook post Thursday that she was told by an official the FBI is involved and the case is being investigated as a homicide.

“Josiah has yet to be located but is no longer thought to be alive,” she wrote. “What I ask for now is for your prayers for both of us – for me to survive this horrific tragedy and for Josiah to be found and brought home where he belongs.”

Shilperoort said he could not confirm if this was true.

“We don’t know if they’re deceased, but we don’t know that they’re alive and well,” he said.

Earlier this week, Liz Hilderbrand offered a $15,000 reward for information leading to her son’s return. A GoFundMe account was created to raise money for the reward.

Josiah Hilderbrand, 25, is described as being 5’8″, 165 pounds with wavy light brown hair and blue eyes. A description of Cleary, 48, has not been provided.

Anyone with information pertaining to the case should call the YCSO at 509-574-2500 and reference case number 19C09726.

To leave an anonymous tip, call Yakima County Crime Stoppers at 800-248-9980.