A body believed to be that of Dr. Jay Sloop, a retired Yakima physician who disappeared in Kiev, Ukraine, in 2013 has been discovered near the park where he was last seen.
Sloop, 77, was in Kiev on a health training visit with the Seventh-day Adventist Church when he left on a routine early-morning walk to a large park known as Zomkova Gara. A security camera recorded him strolling into the park the morning of May 14, but there was not footage of him leaving.
A body that police in Kiev identified as Sloop’s was found in a ventilation shaft of an abandoned building next to the park, according to the Upper Columbia Council, the Spokane-based administrative office for the church’s operations in Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho and northeastern Oregon.
“Renovation work on the building recently began, which led contractors to make the discovery while removing a wall in the basement of the building adjacent the ventilation shaft,” according to a posting on a Web page operated by the council.
Sloop was identified by the clothing he was wearing the day his disappeared and his wallet containing identification, the posting said.
Police are conducting a forensic investigation in an attempt to learn more about Sloop’s death, Upper Columbia Council spokesman Jay Wintermeyer said.
Sloop’s son, Dr. Richard Sloop of Yakima, said in an email Friday that the discovery brings “some closure” to the family, although they don’t know how much more they can expect to learn.
“What happened, who was involved, why it happened is completely unknown and may well never be known,” Sloop wrote. “The forensic investigation may give a few additional details — we will have to wait and see.”
The retired obstetrician was in Kiev helping set up a lifestyle center for the Seventh-day Adventist Church when he disappeared.
He would typically go for an early-morning walk. When he did not return for breakfast on May 14, 2013, others in his party became alarmed.
“An extensive search at the time, which involved hundreds of people, including U.S. Embassy personnel, bloodhounds from Ukraine and Germany and a citywide media blitz turned up no evidence leading to Jay’s whereabouts,” the church’s website said.
A memorial for Sloop was held in Yakima in May 2014 and drew hundreds of mourners.
Sloop’s son said the family was proud of the work his father did in Ukraine. He also thanked Ukrainians for helping in the search and investigation to find his father’s body.
“There are many wonderful people in Ukraine and so many of them have been so helpful — even now — even in the last few days,” Sloop wrote.
Family members previously told the Yakima Herald-Republic that Sloop’s passion for health ministry led him into medical mission work after he retired in 2005 from private practice in Yakima, where he delivered babies for 36 years. He made trips to Russia, Romania, India, Greece and Ukraine.
While visiting Yakima in 2014 for the memorial service, Victor Aleseenko, the president of the Ukraine Union of Seventh-day Adventists, told the congregation that Sloop had been so influential in their efforts to build a new medical center that part of the building will be named in his honor.