An 18-year-old La Plata County man who had been missing for two months was found dead Wednesday less than a half mile from a residence in the Rafter J subdivision southwest of Durango, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Luke Starling was reported missing Feb. 9 after walking away from the back deck of his home on Panorama Drive.
Authorities conducted a search in the area immediately after he was reported missing. Another search was conducted later that month by a La Plata County Search and Rescue team, a K-9 unit and a drone.
Starling’s roommates told investigators they checked him the day he went missing, and nothing appeared wrong. He apparently left his wallet at home, and investigators found nothing in his phone records.
Starling’s body was found about 10 a.m. Wednesday in a wooded area less than a half mile from the residence, said Sgt. Chris Burke with the Sheriff’s Office.
He said a part-time resident who lives in the area read about Starling’s disappearance in The Durango Herald or saw a report on KOBF-TV and recalled receiving a Ring doorbell notification the same day Starling went missing. The Ring doorbell captured video of Starling, and the homeowner compared that image to a picture of Starling on a missing poster. He then notified the Sheriff’s Office, which helped deputies know the direction Starling traveled after leaving his home, Burke said.
“Our deputies and investigators traveled to the same location this homeowner saw on his Ring notification and then came upon the deceased,” he said.
Search and rescue assisted investigators to recover the body from steep terrain.
The Sheriff’s Office declined to discuss a possible cause of death, saying an investigation remains active and a coroner will make a final determination as to the cause of death later this week.
Starling worked two jobs at local restaurants. His family is from California and was notified of his death, Burke said.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Luke Starling,” he said.