Some Curious Things NOT Happening In The Joey Thompson Missing Person Case

by Travis Mateer


A few days after Joseph Thompson went missing, I drove to the area west of Missoula where he was reportedly last seen alive by friends around 4am on April 11th. I wasn’t specifically searching for Joey, but since this area is where Johnny Lee Perry was shot and killed by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, I wanted to take a look at the homeless camps in the area while search and rescue were doing their thing. I covered what I saw in this report posted on April 14th.

Since then I’ve learned some stuff about this case that might be helpful for the investigating agency, so I called the Detective yesterday and left a message, but I guess he was too busy to call me back. Maybe today?

When the search for Joey was scaled back over a week ago, here’s what authorities said about their decision (emphasis mine):

The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office Detective Division has investigated events before and after Thompson was reported missing with a news release stating that no evidence of criminal activity contributing to his disappearance has been found.

“Without further evidence to direct our search efforts, Missoula County Sheriff’s Office and Missoula County Search and Rescue has made the decision to reduce resources dedicated to the search of Joseph Thompson,” Smith stated.

No evidence of criminal activity? Ok, I guess one of Joey’s “friends” shaving his head and leaving town isn’t evidence of something suspicious going on. I have a second source backing up this interesting comment I found on Reddit:

This comment is referencing the fact the body of a young man was found on May 3rd in the Clark Fork river, but so far an ID hasn’t been made. Is it Joey Thompson? And who is this “concerned citizen” who found the body?

Another curious thing NOT happening is ANY activity on this case from the LifeGuard Group. I would have thought a group like this–always eager to post on social media about missing persons cases in Montana–would AT LEAST have something on their Facebook page, but I found nothing. Why?

To answer that question, I decided to call the phone number listed for this “anti-trafficking” group, and Tami Hochhalter answered. Did I get a satisfactory explanation for why the LifeGuard Group has been mum on the disappearance of Joey Thompson? Not really. Tami said something about only searching for minors, then amended that to only searching for potential trafficking victims.

When I started asking questions about the social connections, that’s when my side of the conversation got depicted as “aggressive”. Did I find out that Tami Hochhalter knows the sister of Joey Thompson? Yes I did, but I already knew that before I called. What I learned from the call is that this person wasn’t prepared to answer for their organization’s curious inaction.

If the body pulled from the river is identified as Joey Thompson, and the responsible jurisdiction is Mineral County, then we’re going to have some problems beyond the one I know about and can’t write about yet. What do I mean?

Perhaps a reference to the “train station” will help convey what I’m talking about. I heard this reference made second hand about this stretch of river through Mineral County, and I thought it fit well, so I went looking for a clever image and found a quote from a YouTube video that fits even better (sorry if it’s blurry and hard to read):

It’s amazing to me how being curious about the jurisdictional problems of homeless encampments is overlapping and, in some ways, directly informing my investigation into larger problems of corruption into some of our most critical institutions.

Just 8 days before Joey went missing I wrote about 3 other tragic stories that all resulted in these families having to hire private entities to do the work public investigators, and prosecutors, should be doing. To emphasize what can go WRONG when relying on private investigators, the Rolling Stone published, just 3 days ago, this piece on a PI who I, myself, have had to deal with.

I appreciate being able to have some interesting conversations with journalists outside the Missoula bubble. Sometimes these journalists even work for the Rolling Stone, and they understand more resources are needed to tell some incredible stories brewing here in Big Sky country.

To help my storytelling efforts, Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), and the donation button at my about page, have been neglected for far too long. How about YOU change that today!

It saddens me what unscrupulous people are doing amidst the institutional decay of our criminal justice system. I don’t think we would have gotten to this point if we had some local media with teeth to take a REAL bite out of what’s really going on.

Instead we have a Missoula newspaper telling me about a Bozeman ultra-runner who uses torturous pain to connect to his primal self. Can I get a big FUCK YOU to Lee Enterprises for making their product shittier and shittier?

If this guy wants to experience “tortuous events” he should sit through a session of County Government where the proclamations are long, the public commenters are cranky, the technology is glitchy, and even the people supposedly knowledgeable about policy, like the weed dude, can barely string together a coherent sentence to save his life.

Maybe all this can be discussed at the May 15th City Club discussion regarding the imminent death of our local news industry. Will the body pulled from the Clark Fork be identified by then? If not, maybe I can ask the Missoulian editor about it at City Club.

Have a great weekend!

UPDATE: From the Justice for Joey Facebook page:

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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3 Responses to Some Curious Things NOT Happening In The Joey Thompson Missing Person Case

  1. Pingback: Why Are These Montana LifeGuards, Fighting Human Trafficking, So Quiet? | Zoom Chron Blog

  2. Pingback: Missoula County Sheriff, Jeremiah Petersen, Has Some Explaining To Do | Zoom Chron Blog

  3. Pingback: We Adults Are Failing The Friends Of Joey Thompson | Zoom Chron Blog

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