ST. PETERS, MO (KPLR) -The son of a missing elderly woman from St. Peters, apparently committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in Ecopark in St. Charles. The body of 51-year-old Gary Buckley was discovered by hikers on Tuesday, but police did not publicly reveal that information until Friday.
St. Peters police discovered 77-year-old Mary Buckley missing from her condo on Sugar Glen Drive the same day her son’s body was found. St. Charles police had asked St. Peters officers to go to her residence to tell her about Gary Buckley’s death. They also noticed Mary Buckley’s car was missing from the condo.
The following day, Wednesday, police issued a Silver Alert for Mary Buckley, who is in poor health and has Alzheimer’s disease. Her son had been her caretaker for the past several years.
On Thursday, police began searching for Mary Buckley’s car along the west bank of the Missouri River near the park where Gary Buckley’s body was found. Much to their surprise, several cars were found in the water, but none was Buckley’s.
However, a tip from a train conductor led police to find her car on the east side of the river, in a wooded area just south of the Highway 370 bridge, about a half-mile from where Gary Buckley hanged himself.
“Mary was not around it, didn’t show any signs she was ever in that vehicle, so we believe at this time that her son was the one who ditched the vehicle there prior to his death,” said St. Peters Officer Melissa Doss.
Police found two apparent suicide notes; one in the car and the other, a message carved into a piece of wood discovered near the base of the tree from which Buckley hanged himself.
Detectives are not making the content of those messages public, but say they offer no clues as to Mary Buckley’s whereabouts or well-being.
St. Charles police say Gary Buckley had been spotted on several occasions living in Ecopark.
“Occasionally, (Buckley) would live in the park area out in the woods, so he was considered semi-homeless at times,” said St. Charles Police Captain Don Thurman.
At other times, he lived with his mother.
St. Peters police say they are continuing to investigate this as a missing person`s case, and have been checking with local health care centers looking for Mary Buckley.
If she is still alive, she would have to be getting medical care because she needs bottled oxygen to breathe.