Elderly hunter found dead in Suffolk after he was reported missing


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Police say an elderly hunter who didn’t return home after a routine hunting trip Tuesday in Suffolk was found dead Wednesday morning.

74-year-old Terry Jackson Copeland’s body was located in a thicket of trees around 10 a.m., officials say. His family has been notified.

Terry Jackson Copeland

Officials say they were notified around 11:45 p.m. on Tuesday by a family member who said Copeland had not returned home after a hunting trip on his heavily forested 100-acre property. The trip began at 10 a.m. that morning. Copeland had several underlying medical conditions.

Multiple Suffolk Police and Suffolk Fire & Rescue search and rescue teams canvassed the area of the 3600 block of White Marsh Road on foot, in ATVs, and with drones. Over 60 search and rescue experts in total were part of the operation. The Nightingale medical helicopter searched overnight and a Virginia Beach Police helicopter helped Wednesday.

Officials tell Ten On Your Side search conditions were difficult.

“It’s 34 degrees. That’s one item that hampered. But it’s also 100 acres and these 100 acres have some flat land, have some fields, and a lot of swamps in there as well. There are thickets and other types of barriers. So, the search was hampered by the terrain we were dealing with,” explained Suffolk Fire Chief Michael Barakey.

Chopper 10 aerial of search scene. Dec. 2, 2020

When word got out Copeland was missing, officials say about a dozen citizens showed to help search. While officials appreciated the gesture, they also said that searches like this can be dangerous and should be left to the experts.

“They want to be good citizens and help the community, but what we find in these types of operations in this area is very vast,” said Chief Barakey. “Certainly do not go search on your own — or we’ll be searching for you later.”

Copeland’s cause of death is unknown at this time, but officials say no foul play is expected. The investigation is ongoing.

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