Canyon County

Update: Body found in Middleton pond identified as missing man

Christian Lepe
Christian Lepe

Friday morning update:

Idaho State Police confirmed the body found in the pond was the missing man, Christian Lepe, 39, of Middleton.

Prior reporting:

A man’s body was found in the water at Middleton Lakes subdivision on Thursday afternoon, about four days after a 39-year-old Middleton man was reported missing.

Christian Lepe was seen running away from his parked car in the subdivision around 12:30 a.m. Sunday, his friend Jennifer Ross said. He was reported missing later on Sunday, and Ross was among the close friends who have been searching the area, including the subdivision’s waterways, every day since.

The body was found “within maybe 10 feet from where he parked his car,” Ross said.

“We had been searching right there,” friend Michelle Lackman said. “Every day, that was our meeting point. We were in that same pond yesterday searching for him. We figure he didn’t want us to be the ones to find him.”

Canyon County Coroner Vicki DeGeus said investigators have an idea who the man in the water was, but his ID likely will not be confirmed until Friday. An autopsy will be conducted Friday, she said. The cause and manner of death have not been determined.

Ross and Lackman, administrators of the Facebook page Finding Christian, believe the man found in the water is their friend. Ross said Lepe was reportedly upset Saturday night because of a dispute earlier in the day; she suspects he accidentally fell into the water in the dark.

Lepe was a former U.S. Marine who worked from home via computer to help keep military servers secure, Lackman said. He has a wife and 9-year-old daughter in Middleton and a 13-year-old son who lives in San Diego, she said.

“He was a loving father,” Ross said, too distraught to describe him further.

“He was fun-loving. He loved his Charger, that’s for sure,” Lackman said. “He was really all about family and friends. He always could make you laugh. He was there when you needed him.”

Lepe did not live in the subdivision where he left his Dodge Charger. Ross said police discovered the body Thursday afternoon; she was notified at 2:36 p.m. because she was listed as a contact for Lepe.

Idaho State Police spokeswoman Teresa Baker said Lepe’s family contacted ISP on Thursday morning to help with the investigation. Middleton police, who had been investigating since Sunday, agreed to the help, she said.

“We sent detectives to the place where Mr. Lepe was last seen,” she said. “We began looking for him, and we did discover a deceased male.”

The investigation continues, awaiting confirmation of the man’s identity, Baker said.

If the body is confirmed to be Lepe, Ross said, it likely will be returned to San Diego, where he grew up and still has family.

“He will be sorely missed,” Lackman said.