Missing Craig man found dead Monday

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A Craig family's worst fears sadly came true Monday afternoon when an investigator from the Moffat County Sheriff's Office delivered news that a missing loved one was found dead.

The body of Johnathan Gill, a 20-year-old Craig man, was found Monday and recovered Tuesday morning from a pond in the area of the Yampa River and Loudy-Simpson Park, the Sheriff's Office reported.

Gill was reported missing Nov. 1. He would have celebrated his 21st birthday on Dec. 17.

Sheriff's Office investigator K.C. Hume said he does not suspect foul play at this time.

He reported that an investigation into the death is ongoing and will entail an examination of forensic evidence, as well as a Colorado Bureau of Investigation analysis, an autopsy and toxicology reports.

"The physical evidence, at this point, does not lead us to believe that foul play played a part in Mr. Gill's death," Hume said.

Gill's cousin, Tom Barton of Craig was arrested last week for criminal mischief. He allegedly damaged the truck driven by Gill on Halloween, a day before Gill was reported missing.

Hume reiterated that evidence does not suggest that Gill fell victim to foul play. An autopsy of Gill's body is scheduled to take place this week, he said.

On Monday, when the family and the Sheriff's Office announced Gill's disappearance, family members said they were holding out hope that Johnathan was alive.

By then, several items of Gill's clothing -- shoes, jackets and a stocking cap -- had been recovered, and he'd been missing for five days.

That dwindling hope evaporated later that day when investigators said they'd found Gill's body in a pond.

Family members released a statement from Lisa Gill, Johnathan Gill's mother, on Tuesday. She said her son would be missed by many people.

"John touched a lot of people's hearts and they will miss him dearly as we do," she wrote.

She also thanked the work of the Sheriff's Office and the Moffat County Search and Rescue team that scoured the area during a search for the missing man.

Family members have said Johnathan Gill was kind, friendly and compassionate.

His stepfather, Steve Heafner, and brother, Daniel Gill, reinforced those sentiments Tuesday, describing him as a tall, lanky youth with a bright smile.

"Everybody loved him," Heafner said. "He was easy-going. He'd help anyone out."

"He was good," Daniel Gill said. "He was strong. ... It's all just a shame. It's devastating. You never would have imagined in a million years that something like this would happen.

"(We) all are taking this hard."

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