JAY, Okla. – Skeletal remains discovered in February belong to Chris Teel, a Jay man who’s been missing for six years.
Teel’s remains were discovered northeast of Jay on Feb. 12 by a man who was cutting wood in a rural area and noticed his dog was visibly agitated. When the man went to investigate, he saw skeletal remains and called the Delaware County authorities.
“In some ways, the long nightmare is over,” said Tracy Teel Bishop, Chris’ mother. “But we still want to find out what happened to Chris.”
“The manner of death is inconclusive and the case is still under investigation,” said Delaware County Sheriff James Beck.
Beck said a DNA swab from Teel’s mother matched and confirmed his identity.
Teel, a member of the Cherokee Nation tribe, had been profiled on many missing person websites.
“I am glad we were able to make a positive identification, but we still want to solve this case for the family,” Beck said.
“As tragic as the ending is, I am so glad Chris is back home with his family and can be laid to rest in peace,” said Mike Shambaugh, former Jay Police Chief.
After Teel disappeared Shambaugh and his officers spent weeks and months continuously looking for the Jay man. Even years later, every tip was investigated, he said.
“We searched every corner of Delaware County and Grand Lake looking for him,” Shambaugh said.
Grand River Dam Authorities unsuccessfully searched an area of Grand Lake in a cove near Disney in Jan. 2017.
What was so frustrating for Shambaugh were the bogus reports of seeing him.
“Years later we would get tips and I knew it was bogus, but you still have to check out every tip,” Shambaugh said. “The false reports really take away manpower from searching.”
The bogus tips are hard on the family, he said.
“You don’t want to give the family false hope – but you still want them to know you are working on their case,” Shambaugh said.
Teel was last seen at City Park Apartments in Jay around 11 p.m. on January 2, 2017. He was released from prison two weeks earlier, after serving a six-year sentence on drug charges. He was staying the night with his aunt, Kim Lashbrook.
Lashbrook told Jay police she had talked to Chris around 11 p.m. and told him she would be home in a few hours. When she returned home, she assumed Teel was in a bedroom because the bedroom door was shut. The next day Lashbrook noticed Teel’s ball cap on the couch and that he never went anywhere without the ball cap.
A neighbor reported to Jay police he had seen Teel get into a dark-colored, four-door car in the apartment complex’s parking lot, the police report states.