By CRAIG MURPHY
Of the Keizertimes
As days turned to weeks, Robert Allen Knupp’s co-workers held out hope.
After the 54-year-old Keizerite was reported missing on June 8, his co-workers at Garten Services Inc. in Salem kept looking for him.
“His co-workers have been great,” Garten CEO Tim Rocak said. “People really rallied to try to find Robert, passed out fliers, reached out to his family. Employees started search teams.”
Sadly, those efforts were for naught. On July 9, it was reported the body of Knupp had been found. The Oregon State Patrol sent out a news release with the information and is investigating the death, with assistance from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, the Keizer Police Department and the Marion County District Attorney’s office.
Knupp’s body was spotted shortly after 9:15 a.m. on July 9, with the Marion County Medical Examiner and the OSP Forensic Services Division also responding to assist with the recovery of the body.
“A report was received that a deceased body was found in a field near Talbot in rural southwest Marion County,” the OSP release stated. “Marion County Sheriff’s Office and OSP responded to the scene and confirmed the report.”
The news was a blow at Garten, where Knupp had worked for 17 years and was a custodial supervisor, providing training to individuals with disabilities.
“You can only imagine,” Rocak said of how worried co-workers had been getting. “There were a lot of conversations about whether people knew anything. Obviously we are really sad right now.”
Knupp had been reported missing to the OSP on June 8. His 1993 Geo Metro had been found around midnight on June 7 at the Santiam Rest Area along Interstate 5 south of Salem. He was last seen in Albany earlier that day.
Rocak has fond memories of Knupp.
“He was a long-term employee who cared a great deal about his job,” Rocak said. “He always seemed to be the most polite, most kind, thinking of other people type of individual you would ever run into. He checked in with me and told me he appreciated the job I was doing. To think he would take the time to do that shows what a thoughtful guy he was.”
Rocak recalled being with Knupp when a contract was being handed off.
“Robert was very particular about his work,” Rocak said. “He used to oversee a contract with Corvallis Public Works. I went to an inspection with him, since Robert was passing it to another employee. They were nervous. They knew with Robert everything was well taken care of. Robert wanted things to be the way customers wanted. They really appreciated it. I just remember being there, to pass the reins along and to ease the customer in the situation. I remember the customer not wanting to be eased in the situation. He wanted Robert to stay.”
An autopsy is pending by the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the manner and cause of death.