He described the case as tragic for the family but typical of what troopers dealt with almost every day.
More than 3,000 people had been reported missing the previous year in Alaska, a state with a population smaller than San Francisco’s.
In the town of Soldotna, about 20 miles from where the bones were found, Dolly Hills got a call from one of her granddaughters. They wondered the same thing that Lieutenant Shuey wondered aloud at headquarters, a question Dolly wasn’t prepared to entertain quite yet. In private, though, she could think of nothing else: Could it be Rick?
in January of 2005, her son Richard Thomas Hills had been missing for almost a year.
“They weren’t quite to the point where if you touched them they would disintegrate, but close.” The remains were spread across an area about 60 yards in diameter, presumably the work of scavenging animals.
Also found at the site were three hunting knives, two quarters, two metal buttons, a zipper, and part of a Samsung mobile phone.
He could have run into the wrong bear; as many as 4,000 of them roam the peninsula, including some of the largest brown bears on the planet.Heidi worked at a coffee shop; Dolly helped her husband, an electrician, run his business.Dolly introduced Heidi as “my daughter,” and I would come to know the two women as a unit.Soldotna, a fishing town of about 4,000 people, sits along the Kenai River in the western lowlands.I was met there by Dolly Hills and Heidi Metteer, Rick’s longtime partner.