Search for Lafayette County teenager yields body

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

TAYLOR – Searchers looking for Stephen Tyler Emerick since last Wednesday found the body of a white male in the Yocona River around 4 p.m. Monday.
Lafayette County Deputy Sheriff Jarrett Bundren said the body was found approximately one mile downstream from the bridge on County Road 387, where the search began.
The body has not been positively identified but is believed to be that of Emerick, 19, who disappeared April 29 after leaving his work in Ecru with a complaint of feeling ill. Emerick’s truck was found May 1 with his keys, wallet and phone inside.
A Facebook page created early in the search for Emerick noted late Monday afternoon, “We are deeply saddened at this moment. It is confirmed they have found Tyler where they were searching.”
Bundren said the body will be sent to Jackson for autopsy.
From the beginning of the hunt for Emerick, many of the missing man’s friends and family had helped comb the woods and the river, along with dozens of volunteer firefighters and law enforcement officers.
As the search focused more on the river and was limited to trained personnel, friends and family members stayed at the remote site, lining the roadway with scores of vehicles. At times the crowds of well-wishers watching operations from the bridge or congregating along the roadway numbered near 100.
Lafayette EMA Director David Shaw said the Salvation Army’s food-and-beverage support for searchers and family members was a welcome help.
Numerous law enforcement and emergency response agencies also were involved, including sheriff’s departments, volunteer fire departments and emergency management agencies from both Lafayette, Panola and Yalobusha County; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees nearby Enid Lake; Search Dogs South; Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Mississippi Highway Patrol; Mississippi Bureau of Investigation; and others.
“People donated food to the family, and there was a huge outpouring of help,” said Lafayette County Sheriff F.D. “Buddy” East. Volunteers came from everywhere, took off work for days to help down there.
“As bad as the ending was,” East said, “we’re grateful the family has some closure.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com