OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- A body found in a mountainous area in Riverside County is believed to belong to a missing Oceanside father who disappeared nearly six months ago.
Theresa Sturkie said she and her kids finally have some closure now that her husband John's body has been found.
“It was an answer to a prayer because we were hoping to find him,” Sturkie said.
January 4 was the last time she saw her husband. She said he left to catch up with friends and then never returned home.
“It’s hard for me to even believe what I’ve been through,” Theresa Sturkie said.
Month's later, John's truck was found in San Jacinto State Park. Ever since, that is where his wife and volunteers have been searching.
“I was up almost every week,” said.
Sturkie said she asked the Riverside County Sheriff's Office to help search an area near Black Mountain Truck Trail that was too dangerous for volunteers. That is where the emergency response team found what is believed to be John's body.
“I’ve always believed that he fell because my husband is just so strong and so determined that he would have made it if something else didn’t happen,” his wife said.
Sturkie said John loved to hike and likely drove up to get fresh air before returning home.
“He loved the mountains. He loved the snow. He loved nature. So it does give me some peace that he was in a place for him he felt peace at,” Sturkie said.
John, 55, was also known for his love of hunting and surfing. His family said he also spent time leading boy scouts and volunteering at his church.
To carry on his good work, Sturkie said she has made it a mission to help others find missing hikers like David O'Sullivan - an Irish man who vanished while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail in 2017. As she works to help others, she has a message for her husband.
“Thank you. I’m glad we found you and we love you. We all love you. We miss you, but we know you’re on your next phase of life and we know that you’re with us,” Sturkie said.
John leaves behind four kids and was supposed to celebrate his 21st wedding anniversary this year.
The medical examiner is working to positively ID him and figure out his cause of death.