Foot found at Lake West last year tied to missing Burlington man

A human foot found at Lake West in Burlington in June 2016 has been identified as belonging to a Burlington man whose family reported him missing in 2015.

Lt. Greg Allen, commander of Burlington’s criminal investigatons division, said Monday morning federal criminalists have identified the foot as belonging to Steven Leasure, who was reported missing in May 2015 in Burlington.

“On June 8, 2016, part of a human foot was recovered at Lake West in Burlington,” Allen said Monday. “The foot was sent to the FBI Crime Lab in Quantico, Via., in attempt to compare DNA evidence of Steven Leasure to the human remains. On June 12, 2017, the FBI notified the Burlington Police Department the DNA confirmed the human foot belonged to Leasure.

Police began looking for Leasure in May 2015 after his family reported him missing. Although local and state police conducted several searches throughout the area and followed numerous leads, they could not find any information about Leasure’s disappearance.

Then, about a year later, a citizen walking in the area of Lake West spotted what appeared to be a human foot and ankle near the lake spillway on the northwest side of Burlington.

The search of the lake last June took on added meaning because a bicycle owned by Leasure, who last was seen in May 2015 at a house in the 1400 block of Gnahn Street, was found near the lake about a month after he disappeared.

The human ankle bone was sent to the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation’s crime laboratory in an attempt to identify the remains. It was later sent to the FBI headquarters in Virginia for further testing.

It was at the FBI lab when it was confirmed the ankle belonged to Leasure.

Members of the police department, Des Moines County Sheriff’s Department and the Department of Natural Resources used various techniques to search the lake.

Investigators said at the time, they didn’t find anything during the search of the lake to connect Leasure to the remains.

“We don’t have any new evidence into the disappearance of Mr. Leasure,” said Lt. Jeff Klein, who was commander of Burlington’s criminal investigation division at the time. “We do not know if he was the victim of foul play or not.”

Klein said last summer officers used kayaks to search near the shoreline after several days of pumping water from the 5-acre lake.

“We have completed the search of the lake without finding any additional evidence,” Klein said in suspending the search for additional body parts late last June. “We are done searching (at Lake West) unless something new develops.”

Police never attempted to drain the entire lake, but attempted to lower its depth to a point where they could see about 10 to 15 feet out from the shoreline.

Cadaver dogs searched areas around the lake and had “several alerts” to the possibility of additional human remains in the area, authorities said. However, no additional remains were located.

In the past year, investigators have used sonar and divers in the lake looking for evidence related to the disappearance of Leasure.

In addition to searching the lake and brush-filled shoreline, detectives walked areas surrounding the lake numerous times.

Family members and friends of Leasure conducted searches at several places where Leasure was known to frequent since his disappearance in May 2015 but haven’t found anything to help them determine what happened to him.

Leasure is described as white, bald, about 200 pounds and 5 feet 10 inches tall.

Allen said the disappearance of Leasure is an ongoing criminal investigation. He did not say if police suspected foul play.

He asked anyone with information about Leasure’s disappearance to contact the Burlington Police Department Criminal Investigation Division at 319 753-8365 or the Burlington Area Crimestoppers at 319 753-6835.

A reward of up to $1,000 is being offered.

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