Saturday, April 13, 2024

Cold case closed after 90 years

Staff Writer | February 13, 2024 1:07 AM

WALLACE — For nine decades, the case of a missing game warden during the Depression in Shoshone County remained unsolved. 

When the Idaho Department of Fish and Game began the process of adding Ellsworth Arthur Teed to state and national lists of fallen officers, it wound up drawing attention and new information from the public.

That new information was enough to reopen the case and after a year, Capt. Seth Green of Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office said, the case is concluded with a suspect named.

“There was a huge manhunt back in 1934, one of the largest of its time. We have a huge host of cold cases, but it needs something extra to look into something where all of the suspects and everyone’s dead,” Green said.

A news release issued Monday by the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office officially closed the case, identifying George Pentland as the suspect in Teed’s death. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game assisted with the investigation of the missing game warden.

According to the case details, on Aug. 28, 1934, Teed planned to go to Boulder Gulch in Mullan to investigate evidence of illegal game hunting of deer and game birds. Teed was expected to appear later that day at the funeral of a young neighbor, but never appeared. 

When he hadn’t come home by the following morning, his wife, Alma Teed, alerted law enforcement and a manhunt ensued using local and state resources to determine his whereabouts.

Teed's Model A Ford Coupe was found around the upper Mullan cemetery where he had been headed when he was last seen alive, and his lunch and coat were still locked inside the vehicle.

Three shallow graves in the vicinity yielded evidence of three deer and feathers from hunting activities. 

Several years ago, Idaho Department of Fish and Game expressed interest in adding Teed's name to fallen officer memorials, which reignited interest, Adeline Watkins of Idaho Department of Fish and Game said.

News clippings of the manhunt reported bloodhounds, airplanes, boats and multiple search parties deployed to find Teed, but his body was never recovered.

“They closed the mines out here, which is a big deal, to get everybody out here from the mines out searching,” Watkins said.

Teed wasn’t pronounced dead until seven years after he went missing in 1942, according to Shoshone district court records.

As department records and newspaper clippings from coverage of the missing persons case were coordinated, Teed was selected to be honored by both the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the Idaho Peace Officers Memorial.

A standard press release was issued ahead of the state ceremony on May 18, 2023, triggering a witness with new information. What had seemed to be a family “tall tale” about the death of a game warden now sounded more plausible, Green said.

The news release indicates narratives from four individuals with connections to the 1934 case corroborated that Teed was in Mullan when he was interrupted by Pentland and two young boys, Oscar Downing and John Robert Pentland. 

Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office detective William Keller said with a case this old, hearsay and speculation are difficult to separate from facts without finding the body.

“We started mapping everything out and trying to get old maps of Forest Service land. Ultimately, we had an area where he could be, however, that area spanned pretty much all over the county from Mullan up and over into Avery. That’s like looking for a needle in a giant haystack,” Keller said.

Green said the sheriff’s office is not pouring any resources into locating the remains since animals and environmental factors may have shifted the original location of the body.

    Chris Rowley accompanies Melissa Teed during the service for Idaho Fish and Game's Ellsworth Arthur Teed, who was lost in the line of duty in 1934. The Idaho Peace Officers Memorial ceremony took place May 18, 2023 in Boise. Both the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the Idaho Peace Officers Memorial added Teed's name to their records for his service to the state of Idaho.