VANCEBURG — An investigation is underway by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office regarding the death of teen-aged boy reported missing last week by his family.
Dolton Goodwin, 14, of Garrison, went missing early Wednesday morning. According to Lewis County Sheriff Johnny Bivens, Goodwin left the home he shared with his grandmother, Margaret Gayheart, on Upper Twin Branch in Garrison.
Bivens said he had received a call Saturday afternoon from a farmer on Burnt Cabin Road in the Oak Ridge area of Lewis County, reporting he had spotted a black pickup truck in his soybean field.
“He didn’t approach the vehicle or anything, he called the sheriff’s office,” Bivens said.
Bivens arrived at the scene with Deputy Bryon Walker and the two found Goodwin’s body 15 feet from the truck, lying in the field. Upon further investigation, it was revealed that Goodwin suffered from a self-inflicted gunshot wound from a .22-caliber handgun. Bivens said Goodwin had procured the firearm from Gayheart’s residence.
Goodwin’s death was consistent with a message he had sent to Gayheart shortly after he left her home on Wednesday.
According to Bivens, Goodwin had a difficult life, having lost both of his parents when he was younger.
“He’s had a lot of tragedy in his life,” Bivens said.
The sheriff and deputies had been exploring every avenue to locate Goodwin, by pinging his cellphone and posting a ‘be on the lookout’ alert for the black 2013 Chevrolet Silverado, extended cab pick-up truck he took when he left Gayheart’s home, Bivens said. The sheriff said earlier he believed Goodwin was simply being rebellious when he left.
“I think he was disciplined a day or two ago, not physically, of course,” Bivens said on Thursday, suggesting Goodwin left because he was upset about the punishment.
Reports had come in from residents, claiming to have spotted Goodwin in various areas including at a gas station and even traveling by ATV.
Other officials who responded to the scene included Deputies Mark Sparks, Johnny Byard and Taylor Martin, Lewis County Coroner Tony Gaydos, Deputy Coroner Amanda Gaydos and the Portsmouth Ambulance Service.
The incident remains under investigation by the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and the Lewis County Coroner’s Office. There will not be an autopsy performed, according to the coroner.