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Texas memorial scheduled this Sunday for Eddie Acosta, local service soon
Texas memorial scheduled this Sunday for Eddie Acosta, local service soon

Eddie Acosta
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Aug. 20, 2010) — Eddie Acosta, a retired soldier and Fort Leonard Wood civilian employee who died after being discharged on May 28 from a Columbia hospital to which was transported with stroke-like symptoms, will be among the first people buried at the Fort Leonard Wood Veterans Cemetery.

Acosta’s brother and other close family members live in Texas, and a memorial service for him will be held this Sunday, Aug. 22, at 2 p.m. at Bill Harrod Memorial Baptist Mission in West Dallas.

Local Masonic services for Acosta will be at 9 a.m. at Waynesville Memorial Chapel and Crematory on Monday, Aug.30, with a 10 a.m. graveside service the same day at the Fort Leonard Wood Veterans’ Cemetery, followed by a potluck luncheon in his honor at noon hosted by the Pulaski County Shrine Club.

In lieu of flowers, family members have requested donations to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital. Remaining funds in a reward account set up for Acosta will be donated to the Shriners’ Children’s Hospital until the donors request otherwise.

Obituary information posted by Waynesville Memorial Chapel indicates that Acosta was born on Jan. 16, 1964,  and died on July 2. That’s the date local law enforcement in Columbia located a body and later found Acosta’s personal effects.

According to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department, Acosta, a Laquey resident, was last seen alive by a hotel clerk in Columbia not long after he was discharged from the University of Missouri Hospital at 10 a.m. on May 28, where he had been transported by ambulance. Acosta had been taken from his worksite to General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital earlier that day with stroke-like symptoms, and then transported by ambulance to Columbia for further treatment.

What happened next remains shrouded in mystery with only partial explanations.

While Acosta arrived at the hospital via ambulance, he walked out of the hospital on his own without a car or any other transportation back to the Fort Leonard Wood area. A hospital videocamera shows him walking out of the facility by himself.

He told friends that his cell phone battery was dying and he’d call them back when he found a place to stay for the night until they could pick him up in the morning. However, he never called his friends back and hasn’t been seen since leaving a hotel lobby near the hospital, where he decided against getting a room. Some reports indicate he may have planned to stay overnight at the Veterans Administration hospital lobby, but there’s no record of him being there.

The last time he was seen was by a hotel clerk at a Hampton Inn who said he recognized Acosta’s picture after an extensive manhunt by Acosta’s family, friends, and members of various Masonic and veterans’ organizations led to hundreds of posters being distributed around Columbia, and even posting on three large billboards. However, the hotel keeps video footage for only two days; the clerk said Acosta asked about rates but decided not to rent a room.

It’s not clear where Eddie Acosta went after leaving University Hospital, but the hospital is near a series of cliffs close to a roadway hidden in trees that would have been very difficult to see at night.

Friends and family conducted an extensive search but his remains were eventually found by a hiker at the bottom of a steep cliff which Columbia-area law enforcement and rescue personnel had asked the searchers to avoid due to dangerous terrain.

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