72-Year-Old Stockton Man Laid to Rest More Than a Year after His Disappearance

TRACY -- A veteran who was missing for over a year was finally given a hero’s farewell in front of family and friends.

While questions still remain as to what happened to Leonard Nedervelt, 72, last year that led to his disappearance, his family said being able to bury him Friday in Tracy provided a sense of closure and relief that they have been looking for since he went missing.

For 15 months, James Alvord did not know if he would ever be able to say goodbye to his stepdad.

"It’s been a relief almost actually," Alvord said.

Nedervelt went missing in August 2016. A body that was found earlier this year in Walker Slough in Stockton, over a mile from the neighborhood where Nedervelt lived, was identified as Nedervelt.

Those months waiting for answers were tough on Alvord.

"It’s amazing what a person’s imagination can do when you don’t know. It just runs wild," Alvord said. "You never know where he’s at, or what happened to him, or if he’s still on the streets somewhere, and it can really play on you. And just the fact that we do have an end, whether it’s not a happy ending, but an ending to where we can live with and we can move on."

Nedervelt was buried next to his wife Patricia, who died in 2013. He served in the military for over 20 years.

"He loved my mom from the first day they met, I believe," Alvord said. "It was tragic for him when she passed away, but I know he’s at rest now. It’s good to have them together."

It is still unclear how Nedervelt died. His stepson thanked neighbors who have never stopped searching for answers for Nedervelt.

"When he first went missing, one of the first questions the investigator asked, 'Well did he have any enemies, did he not like... ' and I’m saying, 'No.' That man didn’t have a mean bone in his body," Alvord said. "I never heard him raise his voice or say anything unkind about anybody. He treated my mom like a princess and me like a prince, and that’s the way he lived his life."

FOX40 reached out to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office to see if a cause of death has been determined for Bedervelt, but they did not respond.