JOSEPH, CO — A Wallowa County native’s disappearance during the Chief Joseph Days celebration here last month has left his friends and family anguished and authorities mystified.
Isaac Lee Roberts, 40, of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, rode his motorcycle to the annual blowout in Joseph on July 27, with plans to come home the following day, said his wife Shawna Roberts. He never returned.
“Every fiber of my being says something really bad happened,” said Roberts, who last spoke with her husband by phone after his arrival in Joseph.
Her family is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to his whereabouts.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Isaac Roberts is a 1990 graduate of Joseph High School and had looked forward to reuniting with classmates and old friends at the celebration, his wife said. He was seen leaving a tavern in Joseph with two men and two women about 1:45 a.m. July 28, she said.
The last two confirmed sightings of Isaac Roberts, according to Wallowa County Undersheriff Steve Rogers, were of Roberts walking along Highway 3 between mile-posts 22 and 20, and about five miles north of Snow Hollow Hill. Those sightings were at noon and 4:30 p.m., July 28.
Rogers says Roberts and a man Rogers preferred not to name were traveling by vehicle heading north July 28, when the vehicle ran out of gas. The other man hitchhiked back to Enterprise, got gasoline, and found Roberts waiting for him.
The man Undersheriff Rogers wished not to name told the county sheriff Roberts refused to accompany him back to Enterprise. Rogers said Isaac Roberts asked the man to take care of his motorcycle and belongings, and he was going to continue on to Coeur d’Alene.
Roberts is a 1990 graduate of Joseph High School and, according to his younger brother Shilo Roberts, of Oklahoma, not in the best of health. Shilo said his brother is suffering from asbestos damage to his lungs and “can’t walk more than a mile before sitting down.”
Longtime friends told her Roberts hadn’t been drinking heavily and was in good spirits. “He sounded really happy when I talked to him” earlier that evening, she said. “He asked me if I loved him, and I said yes. He said, ‘Well, everything will always be all right, then.’”
Tim Parks, 49, operator of a fine arts bronze foundry in Enterprise who has known Roberts for two decades, said his friend never returned to get his $25,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
“I don’t know any man who would leave his bike behind if he was going to disappear,” Parks said. “He would disappear on his bike.”
Wallowa County District Attorney Mona Williams said Roberts’ disappearance is being handled for now as a missing person case, not a criminal investigation. “It is definitely an unknown situation we are looking into,” she said.
Wallowa County Sheriff Fred Steen said his office is investigating “all aspects of this. We’re not ruling anything out right now.”
A construction worker who was between jobs, Roberts was carrying several thousand dollars from the sale of a pickup when he disappeared, his wife said.
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