Missing hunter’s body found in Pecos River

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A body found Saturday in the Pecos River is that of an Albuquerque man who went missing while hunting in November, his family confirmed Monday (April 9).

The body of Stanley Vigil, 54, was found about 2 p.m. by an off-duty state police officer who was fishing near the village of San Jose in San Miguel County, state police spokeswoman Lt. Elizabeth Armijo said.

Armijo said investigators transported the body to Albuquerque for an autopsy.

Darcy Vigil said police contacted her Monday afternoon and confirmed the body was that of her missing brother. She said police told her he had drowned and showed signs of head trauma and broken ribs.

She said authorities did not tell her how long he had been dead or in the river.

Stanley Vigil was last seen on Nov. 7 near Barillas Peak east of Pecos during a hunting trip with his family.

Darcy Vigil, 37, said Stanley Vigil had been with their father and other family members driving through the mountains when Stanley spotted a deer. He jumped out of the truck and began tracking the animal, which she said was not unusual for their hunting party.

The group waited, but within five minutes snow and fog spread through the area, diminishing their field of view to about 10 yards, Darcy Vigil said. After 15 minutes, she said the alarmed hunting party started calling her brother’s name, honking and firing shots in the air. They heard a shot fired back but farther away.

Stanley Vigil never returned.

Members of the hunting party called for search and rescue and the help of the state police, but Vigil could not be located.

State police said Monday afternoon they are still investigating whether foul play was involved and could not provide more information.

According to a television news report in February, Vigil’s family had continued its quest to find him even after state police ended their search. 

On Monday, Darcy Vigil said she suspected foul play.

“At this point, to be honest with you, I feel like what happened to him was wrong,” she said. “At this point, it’s like we know there’s foul play.”

She said her brother knew Barillas Peak and said searchers found a game surveillance camera showing that after 33 hours he had made it to the base of the mountain. She said he had gone to ask for help at a trailer near San Juan and then disappeared.

“I don’t see my brother asking for help and going into a river to die,” she said.

State police did not respond to a request for confirmation about the game camera or whether Stanley Vigil asked for help.

“We’re in the middle of an emotional roller coaster,” Darcy Vigil said of her family. “Our biggest obstacle was finding him and now he’s home. Now we can put a good man to rest knowing we can set him free.”

Contact Elayne Lowe at (505) 986-3017 or elowe@sfnewmexican.c­om.

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