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Body of missing Southern California man found 22 years later

Internashonal

Body of missing Southern California man found 22 years later


The body of a Southern California man who went missing 22 years ago was found and will be reunited with his family.

Bill Stampfl, 58, was a civil engineer from Chino who was a loving father and husband.


“My dad loved being a dad,” said Jennifer Stampfl, Bill’s daughter. “He was not a man of many words, but when he spoke, everybody stopped to listen.”

When he wasn’t taking care of his family, Bill loved to seek adventure in the outdoors.

“He was a mountain climbing instructor,” Jennifer said. “He trained in Mt. Baldy, also in Joshua Tree as well.”

In June 2002, Bill and two friends set off to summit Mount Huascarán in Peru, the country’s tallest peak at 22,205 feet.

Bill Stampfl, 58, loved mountain climbing and spending time outdoors. (Stampfl Family)
Bill Stampfl, 58, loved mountain climbing and spending time outdoors. (Stampfl Family)
Bill Stampfl, 58, was a mountain climbing instructor. (Stampfl Family)
Bill Stampfl is seen with his two children. (Stampfl Family)
In June 2024, American hiker Ryan Cooper discovered Bill Stampfl's body buried under ice on Mount Huascarán in Peru. (Ryan Cooper)
Bill Stampfl's identification card was found in a small bag containing his personal belongings.
Bill Stampfl's personal items were found in a small bag after hikers found his body on Mount Huascarán in Peru.
American hiker Ryan Cooper, from Las Vegas, was climbing Mount Huascarán in Peru with his brother when they found Bill Stampfl's body in June 2024. (Ryan Cooper)
Team members carried Bill Stampfl's body down Mount Huascarán in Peru. (Ryan Cooper)
Team members carried Bill Stampfl's body down Mount Huascarán in Peru. (Ryan Cooper)
American hiker Ryan Cooper, from Las Vegas, was climbing Mount Huascarán in Peru with his brother when they found Bill Stampfl's body in June 2024. (KTLA)
snapshot 5 6
Bill Stampfl, 58, loved mountain climbing and spending time outdoors. (Stampfl Family)
Bill Stampfl, 58, is seen in a photo with family. (Stampfl Family)
Bill Stampfl, 58, is seen in a personal photo. (Stampfl Family)
A plaque honoring Bill Stampfl and his two climbing friends was placed at Mount Baldy in Southern California, a place where Stampfl trained. (Stampfl Family)
A plaque honoring Bill Stampfl and his two climbing friends was placed at Mount Baldy in Southern California, a place where Stampfl trained. (Stampfl Family)
Team members carried Bill Stampfl's body down Mount Huascarán in Peru. (Ryan Cooper)

“I knew my dad’s planning and calculations were going to bring him home safely, so we weren’t worried,” Jennifer said.

As the men attempted to reach the summit, an avalanche suddenly came down into their path and swept them all away. News of their disappearance shocked loved ones. Heartbroken, Bill’s family held on to hope that perhaps he was still alive.

Sadly, that news never came.

“At some point, they stopped the search and that was really hard,” Jennifer said. “Because you’re like, ‘What if he’s still alive? What if there’s a chance?’”

Now, 22 years later, the Stampfl family was stunned when they received a call telling them Bill’s body was found.

In June 2024, an American hiker named Ryan Cooper, who took the same route as Bill, discovered the man’s body preserved and buried under ice. Jennifer remembers the moment her brother called her saying their father had been found.

“He said, ‘Are you sitting down?’” Jennifer recalls. “He said, ‘They found Dad.’ I said, What?’ He was still in shock too and it just took a second of silence to process hearing that out loud.”

At the time, Cooper, the hiker from Las Vegas who found Bill’s body, was hoping to summit Mount Huascarán with his brother but was forced to turn around due to potentially deadly weather conditions.

Disappointed, he headed back down the mountain and that’s when he spotted Bill’s body.

Cooper found Bill’s ID card within his personal belongings and his new mission was now focused on reaching Bill’s family.

“There was a moment when we saw he was from Chino, California and we were American as well, that it was our responsibility,” Cooper said of the fateful discovery. “It hit me shortly after, that I realized I wasn’t there to summit. I was there to find Bill and get Bill back to his family.”

Team members worked to carry Bill’s body down from the icy mountain. After 22 years, closure was not something the Stampfl family had ever dreamed of.

“It gives you renewed hope and trust in humanity because they did not have to go that extra length,” Jennifer said of Cooper and his team.

The Stampfl family is now working to transport Bill’s body back to the U.S. from Peru for a proper burial at home.

A plaque was placed on Mt. Baldy in SoCal to honor Bill and his two friends.



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