Mystery deepens surrounding local man’s disappearance
FORT HALL — It’s been 28 days since 34-year-old Matthew Broncho of Fort Hall mysteriously disappeared, and his grieving family members are desperate for word from anyone who may have seen or had contact with him.
Matthew’s brother, Jim Broncho, believes he was severely depressed due to a series of personal problems, and no one in the family has any idea what he had in mind when he left, or even that he planned to leave.
“I tried to reach out to him because I knew he was depressed,” Jim said, “but he wouldn’t confide in me.”
Jim said Matthew was terminated from his job at the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes Commodities Department on March 18. He drew his final paycheck, and his bank information showed a $250 withdrawal on March 19. He was last seen locally on March 20.
With no word from Matthew by March 22, his mother, Cynthia, who had a spare key to the vehicle he was driving, located his cell phone via GPS and with a companion followed the signal to its end where she found the 2011 Toyota Tundra pickup he had been driving parked on the Interstate 84 milepost 7 off-ramp at Snowville, Utah, with the doors closed and locked.
Inside, his brother said, were his cell phone and his wallet containing all of his identification papers, but no money. His mother drove the vehicle to a gas station, fueled it up and drove it back to Fort Hall. Jim said Matthew’s dog, a Dachshund, was found on March 27 by passersby at Exit 5. They took it to the nearby Flying J service station, where employees who had heard about the missing person called the Box Elder County Sheriff’s Office.
Jim said two days after retrieving the pickup, his mother notified the sheriff’s office about finding the pickup truck and gave them other information about his brother. He said the truck was picked up at his mother’s house by Fort Hall Police and taken to Idaho Falls for processing.
According to Jim, an extensive two-day search was made for Matthew in the Snowville area by Box Elder Search and Rescue and by 30 family members from Fort Hall two days after the truck was found, so he believes no stone was left unturned in the effort. “They even brought in cadaver dogs, and the sheriff’s office launched a drone, but nothing turned up,” he said.
He said family members went back multiple times and covered every inch of ground on foot for eight miles on either side of the I-84 exit ramps where the pickup truck and dog were found.
“We believe the dog must have been held somewhere, because where was he for six days?” Jim asked. “He was an indoor dog. He couldn’t have survived for six days alone and outside. My brother had his dog for five years and loved him. He would never have gone off and left him alone.”
His mother saw Matthew at noon on March 30, Jim said, and a former employee of Shoshone-Bannock High School reported seeing Matthew in a video store at Lava Hot Springs the evening of March 30. He said a police officer told him Matthew was seen on surveillance cameras at the Idaho Falls and Pocatello airports, and a woman reported seeing him in Snowville with his dog at 3 p.m. on March 21.
Box Elder County Sheriff Kevin Potter said Tuesday his detectives have been following up on numerous reported sightings of Matthew, including going to Salt Lake City and showing his photograph around the areas where homeless people are known to congregate.
“We had multiple reports from people who thought they had seen him in the area around Liberty Park,” Potter said, “but nothing has turned up.”
Potter said the area around Snowville is farming country with flat terrain.
“Our office, Search and Rescue and volunteers searched for two days on foot, horseback and with dogs and didn’t turn up a thing,” he said.
They have not stopped looking and will continue to follow up on any leads, Potter said, but with no new clues it’s difficult to make much headway. “But missing persons cases are never closed,” he said. “We’ll continue to follow up any leads we get.”