Few clues surface in search for Steamboat man | SteamboatToday.com

Few clues surface in search for Steamboat man

It's been three weeks since Matthew Shelters was last seen leaving a downtown Steamboat Springs bar. Police and family members are optimistic that a clue will be discovered leading to his location.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Nathan Shelters was back home in Oregon on Monday, but his heart was still in Steamboat Springs, and his mind was clearly focused on figuring out the next step in finding his brother, Matthew Shelters, who vanished after leaving a downtown Steamboat bar three weeks ago.

"I'm back in Oregon, and my dad is back in Michigan. It's incredibly difficult to be here, and it's so frustrating," Nathan Shelters said. "We just want to know something. We want to know anything. To have nothing coming in is so incredibly difficult."

Nathan and his family arrived in Steamboat shortly after Matthew Shelters' disappearance in the early morning hours of April 24. They have been working with the Steamboat Springs Police Department and a large group of volunteers to chase down leads that might lead to discovering Matthew’s whereabouts.

The group has scoured county roads, searched up and down the river and chased down every tip, no matter how small. They have blanketed the town with reward posters and set up a Facebook page, hoping to turn up clues about the disappearance of the 38-year-old Steamboat man who was last seen leaving Back Door Grill at 12:20 a.m. April 24.

Matthew Shelters is 6 feet 1 inch, weighs 170 pounds and has a salt-and-pepper beard. He was last seen wearing a dark, charcoal hoodie, a dark-colored felt-billed hat, brown khaki slacks and light colored shoes.

Police said he was driving his girlfriend's car to a friend's house and asked if he could park it there for the night. He told the friend he was going to the bars and planned to ride his bike home that night. The bike was later found at E3 Chophouse, where Shelters worked, and the girlfriend’s car was found at the friend’s house.

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Police said Shelters had a car but rarely drove it, and it was still in the parking lot of the Flour Mill where he lived.

"We are still responding to tips, still making sure we are gathering all the information that is available to us, but we are not actively searching for him,” said Police Chief Cory Christensen. “I know the family has gone home, and I do know that there are still volunteers searching for him.

“We would love to bring some closure to the family, but we have been unable to do that so far,” Christensen continued. “Everything has gone completely cold."

Christensen said police were able to get data off of Shelters’ cellphone, and the phone was active for a couple of hours after he was last seen leaving Back Door Grill, but the information did not help law enforcement officers locate Shelters or the phone.

"We acquired all of the data that is possible to acquire without the phone in our possession, and we have analyzed all of that data quite extensively," Christensen said. "We have a very clear understanding of what was going on with his phone up until after it no longer worked."

Police also conducted searches based on the phone's last contact with the Hilltop cellphone tower, which gave them an area within a 120 degree arc.

"We know that he was in the arc for an extended period of time before his phone stopped woking," Christensen said. "We didn't locate him, but that's where his phone was. We can't say for certain that he was with the phone."

At this point, Christensen said there is no evidence that a crime was committed, and family members are struggling to understand why Shelters has apparently disappeared without a trace. 

"This is completely out of the ordinary," Nathan Shelters said. "We touched base often — even if it was just a text message."

People with any information about Matthew Shelters’ whereabouts are asked to contact Steamboat police by calling 970-879-1090.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.