“We're hoping that maybe he's alive somewhere here in the area,” said Clint Eastep back on that sunny October day.
Eastep is Tommy Eastep's brother, and had come up from Texas to search for him with his family. The also established a “Missing Tommy Eastep” Facebook page to keep attention on his disappearance.
That is where the family shared the news of the discovery of Tommy's remains this weekend.
During a telephone interview on Monday, Clint Eastep said a group of turkey hunters discovered skeletal remains in a field located about 100 yards where Tommy Eastep's locked truck had been found nearly three and a half years before.
This, despite an exhaustive search done by the family, the Hughes County Sheriff's office and the OSBI. Even cadaver dogs had been used in the early searches, but nothing was detected until this weekend.
“We don't know why he was even in this area really,” said Kenny Snider, who was the Hughes County sheriff back in 2013.
The family said Tommy Eastep was last seen over the 4th of July weekend in 2013. They had all come out to Lake Eufaula to celebrate the holiday and had all stayed at a Best Western nearby.
“As far as we knew he was coming back to the lake,” said Tommy’s mother, Carla Eastep when News 9 revisited with the family about the missing person’s case back in July 2015.
Instead, Tommy Eastep vanished without a trace.
Two months later, hunters found Tommy Eastep's pickup 50 miles from the hotel, parked in a wooded area. His keys wallet and cash were all inside, but Tommy Eastep and his phone were gone.
Every day that passed, the family hoped and prayed he would one day return.
Now he will, but not in the way they wanted.
Tommy Eastep's body is being examined at the Oklahoma medical examiner's Tulsa office. His cause and manner of death are still pending.