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Wife of missing plumber asks court to declare husband dead

The wife of a Puna man who vanished almost 5 1/2 years ago has filed a civil court petition requesting her husband be declared dead.

The petition was filed March 13 in Hilo Circuit Court by Honolulu attorney Robert Holland on behalf of Marylou Meek, wife of Jeffrey Everett Meek, who went missing on Nov. 8, 2014.

Jeffrey Meek, a 44-year-old plumber from Keaau, was reportedly clearing a 21-acre Pepeekeo Point Subdivision property where his family planned to build a pair of houses, when he called an employee to help free his pickup truck, which was stuck in a patch of mud, police said.

That was the last time anyone heard from Meek.

A search was mounted by friends, family and fellow parishioners of the church the Meeks attended, combing the parcel and the nearby shoreline. That effort turned up one of Meek’s boots, two days later. The other boot was found the following day, about a mile-and-a-half away, near a shoreline access point.

Police classified Meek’s disappearance as a missing person case and said at the time there was no evidence of foul play.

Meek’s mother, Sandra Meek, a real estate agent who owns two Berkshire Hathaway offices in Southern California, didn’t believe that Meek — father of a son, with one more son on the way — disappeared on his own.

“Why would he walk a mile and a half while he’s waiting for somebody to come and help him get out of the mud?” Sandra Meek said shortly after her son disappeared. “His cellphone records show the calls that he made for someone to come and help him.”

Sandra Meek said her son had confronted former employees about alleged thefts from his since-shuttered company, Jeffrey Meek Plumbing in Shipman Business Park. She said the employees “all quit,” and estimated her son’s debts at $50,000 to $60,000.

“But his gross receipts were in the hundreds of thousands per year. He had a successful company,” she added.

According to Sandra Meek, her son had been seeing a psychiatrist and was taking medicine for attention deficit disorder. She said, however, he wasn’t depressed “and had absolutely no reason to disappear.”

An affidavit filed by Holland said there have been “diligent searches and inquiry” into Meek’s disappearance and no “satisfactory explanation for his absence, and Jeffrey Everett Meek is presumed dead.”

Holland’s document said Marylou Meek, who now lives in Southern California, needs a judicial determination of her husband’s death to obtain a death certificate, which would allow her to obtain Social Security survivor benefits and settle her husband’s affairs.

At least two private investigators, Steve Goodenow and John Wood, were hired to investigate Meek’s disappearance.

An affidavit filed by Goodenow said the police investigation and his own — which included a physical search, examination of Meek’s financial and phone records, distribution of posters, and follow-up on all leads — yielded “no positive results.”

Goodenow wrote that his investigation “developed two general theories regarding Jeffrey Meek’s disappearance.”

“The first theory is that Mr. Meek may have committed suicide by jumping into the ocean near the family’s property. The other theory was that Mr. Meek was killed by unsavory associates,” Goodenow wrote.

Goodenow concluded, based on his investigation, “that Jeffrey Meek is deceased due to foul play.”

No hearing date has been set in the case.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald

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