Reed Taylor Jeppson, age 15, went missing from Salt Lake City, Utah, on October 11, 1964.
It was a Sunday, and the Jeppson family had just returned home to 1951 Browning Avenue, after attending church. Reed’s sister was starting dinner, when Reed came into the kitchen and opened cans of dog food. He then left the house to feed and walk his two German Shorthaired Pointer dogs – one of which was a puppy.
A friend reported seeing Reed with his dogs near the now defunct St. Mary of the Wasatch school, not far from the Jeppson home. This is the last reported sighting of Reed and his dogs.
By all accounts, Reed was not a troubled child and he had no reason to run away. He was the son of a doctor, and he had eleven siblings.
He was on East High School’s football team and had just scored his first touchdown. He also had a paper route, and the money he had saved was left at home, along with all his other belongings. It’s possible he had $40 in cash on him when he vanished.
Although there was an intensive search for Reed at the time of his disappearance, his case quickly went cold and for decades, it was not investigated.
Recently, at the urging of Reed’s family, it has been looked at again. A tip was received which led police to search a gully near Clayton Middle School, about half a block from the Jeppson home. Cadaver dogs initially showed interest in a specific spot, and it was excavated, but the dogs eventually stopped indicating anything was there. The search was halted at that time.
It is not believed that Reed left of his own accord, and his brothers and sisters continue to search for him. His parents have since died; his father passed just over a year after his disappearance.
Although I do tend to agree with Reed’s family, who insists he would not have run away, I find a stranger abduction unlikely also. Reed was an athletic, muscular teen, and he had two dogs with him. It was the middle of the day, and the area was not secluded. He would not have been an easy target.
There is the possibility that Reed could have been offered a ride home from a stranger, that he might ordinarily have accepted. It was much more common back then, and I’ve never seen any indication from his family one way or the other, as to whether he would have accepted a ride from a stranger.
I feel that it’s a mostly moot point anyway. Because he was walking his dogs and was very close to home, it doesn’t make sense to me that he would have accepted a ride, even from someone he knew well. That would defeat the whole purpose of walking the dogs.
I’ve wondered if perhaps Reed encountered someone who asked him for help, and he went with them? Or less likely, that one of his dogs got away from him and he’d gone into a secluded area to retrieve the dog, and something happened there. I had also considered the idea that he’d been hit by a car and the driver panicked – but I find it unlikely that this could have occurred without anyone seeing anything, and I think the dogs would have been found if this were the case.
Since the school where Reed was last seen closed down in 1969, I’ve been unable to map the route he would have taken home to see if there were any wooded areas or rivers near where he was walking.
I am wondering what type of tip was received that led police to search the gully. Did the tipster have an idea of who might have been involved or what the motive might have been? The fact that the dogs hit initially kind of makes me think there was something to it.
I am hopeful that someone out there has the missing piece of the puzzle, that can bring Reed home to his family.
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