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Body found in Arizona believed to be missing Santa Clara man

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SANTA CLARA, Washington County — Police believe the body of a Santa Clara man missing for seven weeks has been found near the Utah-Arizona border.

A body believed to be that of David Heisler, 30, was found about 4 p.m. Thursday by a Bureau of Land Management geologist near Mount Trumbull, Arizona, along the Arizona Strip, said Santa Clara police officer Chad Holt.

The body was found in an area that was accessible by a vehicle, he said. Holt said it also did not appear that anyone had attempted to conceal the body.

The body was badly decomposed and had been there for a while, he said. But "based on the clothing that was found, where the body was located and the proximity of where Dave was reportedly last seen," Holt said investigators felt confident it's him.

"We've been working hard to bring the family some closure on this, and hopefully this new evidence will bring it to them," he said.

The body was taken to the Mohave County Medical Examiner's Office for positive identification and to determine the cause of death. As of Friday, police were not yet calling the death a homicide.

Heisler was last seen June 27 when police say he was kidnapped from his home by his former girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, Kelley Marie Perry, 31, and her boyfriend, Francis Lee McCard, 55.

Perry and McCard, both of Washington, are charged with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated burglary, first-degree felonies, and theft, a second-degree felony.

The alleged kidnapping came a week after a judge awarded Heisler full custody of his 6-year-old daughter. Following the custody hearing, McCard was overheard telling Perry he would "fix" the custody issue, according to a search warrant.

Tammy Renee Freeman, 54, of Washington, allegedly drove Perry and McCard to Heisler's house. She faces the same charges as Perry and McCard.

Heisler's car was found abandoned on July 1 in Beaver Dam, Arizona. A bullet casing was found inside the car, as well as blood on the car's exterior. McCard admitted to taking the vehicle to Arizona and leaving it there, the charges state.

McCard told police that after detectives initially spoke with Perry, he and Perry used a laptop or tablet to look up the area around Mount Trumbull, Arizona, a remote area located near the Utah-Arizona border, according to a search warrant filed earlier.

Several searches had been conducted by the Mohave County Sheriff's Office without success prior to Thursday's discovery, including near the area where the body was found.

Word of the discovery spread quickly on social media Friday morning.

A woman who said Heisler was her nephew posted on Facebook: "We are devastated yet thankful for the many great people that have put out prayers and support toward our family. We have a long road ahead of us, and we are asking that you keep the family in your prayers as the trials and tribulations continue in the near future."

The Washington County Attorney's Office, Santa Clara Police Department, Mohave County Sheriff's Office and FBI will continue working jointly on the case pending the outcome of the autopsy, Holt said.

Whether the three people already arrested in connection with Heisler's disappearance will face additional charges will depend on the outcome of the autopsy, he noted, adding that charges could potentially be filed in Arizona.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam