SUFFOLK, Va. - The Suffolk Police Department and Suffolk Fire & Rescue crews said a hunter reported missing after he failed to return home late Tuesday evening was found dead in a thicket of trees on his property at 10 a.m Wednesday.
Officials say Copeland left to go hunting in this 100 acres of wooded area near Balm Church South Campus on White Marsh Road at 10 a.m. Tuesday
Family members reportedly searched for him Tuesday night when he didn’t return and eventually called 911.
According to police, dispatch received a call from a family member of Copeland at 11:45 p.m. Tuesday saying that he hadn't come home after a routine hunting trip on his heavily forested 100-acre property.
Police and fire crews searched the area on foot and in ATVs, and a Nightingale helicopter searched the property from the air for approximately an hour Wednesday morning.
"Although it looks like fields behind us, all those 100 acres also had thickets, swap and some other marshy areas so it was very challenging to be inside those areas," said Suffolk Fire Chief Michael Barakui.
Additional crews arrived at approximately 5:00 a.m. to help search for Copeland. Police say there were more than 60 trained search and rescue experts searching the ground and a Virginia Beach Police helicopter and a Suffolk drone continued search efforts in the air.
"We feel like it was a very successful operation. We wish the outcome would’ve been different," explained Barakui."The person was identified and located and that’s all that we can ask for."
Investigators are looking into what happened out there in the woods and why an experienced hunter familiar with the terrain wasn’t able to return home.
Copeland's cause of death is undetermined at this time and the investigation remains ongoing. No foul play is suspected.