BY AMY KINGSLEY -- In January 2012, Keith Goldberg vanished without a trace. Investigators suspected foul play and arrested his ex-girlfriend and her husband.
But they had few clues to offer when they turned the job of searching for Goldberg’s body over to a volunteer search and rescue team.
“We had no clues,” said David Cummings, commander of Red Rock Search and Rescue. “All we had was a couple cell tower pings east of Sunrise Mountain and that was it. Needle in a haystack. So we had some evidence of a certain type of dust on [the suspect’s] vehicle. You know, Metro homicide was very forthright with us and gave us all the evidence they had. And we just basically looked at the desert and said, ‘We’re going to tear it apart.’”
The team searched for more than a year. They went out on more than 50 missions and combed the area east of Sunrise Mountain. Eventually, they zeroed in on a section of water near Lake Mead. But it was inside the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Regulations required the group to obtain a million dollar insurance policy in order to search.
Eventually, they found an affordable policy, and about a year after they first started searching, they recovered Goldberg’s remains.
Deputy Commander Dana Richardson was on one of the five teams out searching that day, and he heard the news over his radio.
“We all heard the calls kinda going over the radio that they suspected they had found a human femur,” Richardson said. “And then, more remains were located. I think there was a little bit of disbelief, a little bit of, ‘Could this be?’”
But closure would not come that quickly. The team turned the remains over to the coroner, who submitted them for DNA analysis.
“As we went home that night and kind of talked on the phone and the team chatter kind of went over the radio and in our private internet pages, there was a real sense of excitement that we had found something,” Richardson said. “We didn’t know who it was. It was always kind of the wonder, like ‘Could it be Keith?’ We didn’t know. We had to wait for DNA. We had to wait for the results and that took about two or three weeks. When we got the results, Dave let out just an unreal cheer.”
When members of the Goldberg family called to say the bones belonged to Keith, the team was elated.
“The relief was incredible,” Cummings said.
The discovery validated team members, who joined the group for one reason.
“You do this because we are trying to send someone home with their family,” Cummings said.
And that’s exactly what they did.
David Cummings, commander, Red Rock Search and Rescue
Dana Richardson, deputy commander, Red Rock Search and Rescue
Robin Peterson, volunteer, Red Rock Search and Rescue