Kittitas County deputies continue search for Kent man missing since 2020

Ian Eckles Still Missing Kittitas County
Source: Kittitas County Sheriff's Office
Kittitas County sheriff's deputies continue to search for Ian Eckles, who went missing last year in the Liberty area and is believed to be dead.

KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. — Kittitas County sheriff’s deputies continue to search for Ian Eckles, who went missing last year in the Liberty area and is believed to be dead.

In a post Sunday, the sheriff’s office commemorated the one year anniversary of Eckles’s disappearance with a Facebook post asking people to continue to be on the lookout for any clues that might lead to finding him.

“The bar should be set pretty low for what people think is worth calling our dispatch center because we would rather go to a hundred calls that turn out to be just nothing than miss the one call where somebody just shrugs something off that could be the thing that helps us to find him,” said Chris Whitsett with the Kittitas County sheriff’s office.

Deputies ask anyone in the Liberty, Mineral Springs, Teanaway or First Creek areas to keep their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary and call the sheriff’s office if they see anything.

According to the sheriff’s office, on the afternoon of May 16, 2020, Eckles drove his Toyota FJ from his home in Kent to Liberty, planning to camp in the SUV that night and meet up with friends to hunt turkeys the following day.

“In a total departure from his normal behavior, Ian never showed that morning — nor did he show at work the next morning,” the post said. “Ian’s concerned friends reported him missing.”

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Detectives looked at Eckles’s cell phone data and determine he did drive into Kittitas County while on his way to Liberty. Kittitas County Search and Rescue volunteers, friends and family searched the area for days before they saw a strange man driving Eckles’s car.

Whitsett said the driver — later identified as Jorge Alcantara-Gonzalez — fled and was later found in a forest off of a remote road, along with a stolen vehicle and Eckles’s car.

“The suspect ran from deputies, leaving behind evidence of a violent, bloody confrontation in Ian’s car,” the post said.

Alcantara-Gonzalez fled again and evaded authorities for 23 days in what deputies called, “the largest and most intensive manhunt in Washington State history.”

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In September, Alcantara-Gonzalez he pled guilty to theft of a motor vehicle,  possession of a stolen motor vehicle, identity theft, theft of two firearms, residential burglary and first- and second-degree burglaries.

“It’s believed Ian was killed while car camping near Liberty or Mineral Springs on or around the early morning of May 17,” the post said. “Thousands of hours by trained searchers and canines as well as untold time spent by volunteers and many people who knew and loved Eckles have not revealed where Ian’s killer put his body.”

Anyone with information about Eckles’s cases should call Kittcom at 509-925-8534.