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YouTube group locates body of Idaho teen missing since 2018 after 20 minutes of searching

Jed Hall's family wrote on Facebook the human remains found in the Snake River Sunday morning are his. He had not been seen for four years.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho — The family of the Idaho Falls teenager whose car was found in the Snake River after he had been missing for more than four years confirmed the human remains found inside are his. 

Law enforcement in Eastern Idaho officially confirmed Thursday the human remains are Hall's.

Jed Hall was last seen driving a 2009 gray Nissan Versa hatchback on January 22, 2018. Idaho Falls Police Department (IFPD), Bonneville County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) and Adventures with Purpose (AWP), a search and rescue team, found the car in the Snake River South of Johns Hole Boat Ramp at River Parkway and Highway 20 in Idaho Falls on Sunday morning.

Hall was 16-years-old when he was first reported missing. IFPD said he took a 9mm handgun and various camping/survival gear when he left home. He also left a note that said he intended to attempt suicide, according to police.

Hall's family confirmed the remains were his Wednesday night in a Facebook post. They added they have tentatively planned a memorial service at the Nalder Funeral Home in Shelley, ID on Saturday, May 14.

It took AWP crews only 20 minutes after starting the search to help locate Hall's car. Their visit to Idaho Falls on Sunday was the first time they did anything with Hall's case.

AWP Lead Diver and Investigator Doug Bishop said they were able to help bring tools and resources into this case that law enforcement did not have.

"There is no one in the world that's doing what we're doing and on the level we're doing it," Bishop said.

AWP is a search and dive team that primarily focuses on missing person cases involving a missing vehicle. They have more than two million subscribers on YouTube and Bishop said they get more than 15 million views a month. 

Before they got involved in cold cases, Bishop said AWP's main purpose was to help clean up the environment and waterways around the world.

Since 2019, AWP has been able to help 22 missing person cases. He said while Hall's search was not their first case in Idaho, this was the first case they've solved in the Gem State.

Bishop told KTVB their viewers are the reason they're aware of Hall's case. After receiving tips and information about Hall and carefully vetting those details, Bishop said they were able to schedule a time to search in Idaho Falls.

"We arrived in Idaho Falls Sunday morning right around nine o'clock we got to work at the first location that we pointed out that we needed to search, which was the most probable of locations," Bishop said. "About 20 minutes into our search, we discovered a vehicle underwater about 75 yards downstream from the main boat ramp there."

Bishop said his search and dive team was able to track the last ping of Hall's cell phone to that Idaho Falls location near the water. They credit their unique sonar expertise for helping find the vehicle in the river. 

"Law enforcement and search and recovery teams, in general, do not specialize in the use of sonar," Bishop said. "Yes, they use it. Yes, this area of water was searched. But the individuals that are using the sonar aren't specialized in it, they're not using it every day."

Bishop said while this may not bring closure to Hall's family, it at least provides answers.

"One of the toughest things to do is to lose a loved one and not know a thing," Bishop said. "What our minds are capable of and theorizing what happened in the, 'What ifs?' is a daily nightmare."

IFPD said investigators have done numerous searches over the last four years, even in areas near where the vehicle was located. They've also looked into many different possibilities and tips. 

According to a news release from IFPD, when Hall first disappeared in January of 2018 law enforcement received location data for Hall's cellphone. It showed the phone either died or was turned off at 6:48 a.m. Police said the last location ping showed the phone was nearly half a mile southeast of the Verizon tower on Lindsey Blvd, which includes a part of the Snake River and Highway 20.

"IFPD investigators also recognized early on that it was possible that Jed and his vehicle may have entered the Snake River," IFPD said in a news release. "At least three searches were conducted specifically for this case utilizing local law enforcement resources from the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team. The team’s sonar and underwater search equipment were utilized along with resources from partner agencies and entities to search the area around the forebay and upstream in the sections of the river that fell within the “ping” data. Unfortunately, no sign of Jed or his vehicle was located."

IFPD and Bonneville County Sheriff Sam Hulse credits the work done by Adventures with Purpose to help bring answers to this case. 

"BCSO continually evaluates operations to make improvements and will evaluate the search operations tied to this case," Hulse said in the news release. "The Sheriff’s Office regrets that Jed or the vehicle were not located in previous efforts. On behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, we offer our empathy to the Hall family during this difficult time." 

“In any missing person case, our sincere hope is to find the person alive and well,” Bryce Johnson, Chief of IFPD said in a news release. “While this is not the outcome we had hoped for we appreciate all those who have assisted in this investigation and the effort to provide answers to Jed’s family and loved ones. Our hearts are with the Hall family and all those who knew and loved Jed at this time.”

The Bonneville County Coroner’s Office, local experts, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children assisted in identifying the remains.

The Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached by calling (800)273-8255 or texting (208) 398-4357. The Nationwide Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached by calling 800-273-8255.

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