VENTURA : Scouts Find Body of Missing Camper

A 37-year-old developmentally disabled man was discovered dead of exposure Wednesday, two miles from the Santa Barbara camp where he disappeared two weeks ago.

Scotty Aimes, son of Carolyn Hodina of Ventura, died of exposure, malnutrition and starvation, said Detective Claude Tuller of the Santa Barbara County coroner's office. An autopsy revealed no evidence of foul play, Tuller said.

A group of Boy Scouts found Aimes' body in a creek bed surrounded by dense woods about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Deputy Tim Gracey of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said.

"Maybe in the beginning it was a hide-and-seek thing," Gracey said. "Later, after rescue workers cleared out, maybe he came to the realization he was in trouble."

Aimes, who had the intelligence of a 3- to 5-year-old, apparently wandered away from the Rancho Alegre campground above Lake Cachuma on July 19, said Lt. Joe Smith of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department.

Aimes had been camping for a week with a group of developmentally disabled people through a program run by the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department, Smith said. He has lived in a foster home in Santa Barbara for 13 years, he said.

Aimes was described as very shy and predictable.

"That he walked away is completely 180 degrees off from how he was described by counselors," Smith said.

Aimes was discovered missing about 4:30 p.m., about two hours after he was last seen in the cafeteria, Smith said.

The Sheriff's Department was notified of the disappearance and began a search that night. The search, which at times involved as many as 65 people, continued for the next three days.

The state Office of Emergency Services helped coordinate the effort, which included a mounted patrol, four dogs and helicopters with infrared systems to detect body heat, Smith said.

Several people reported seeing Aimes. Some said they had seen him on California 154 and others believed that he was in Buellton or Santa Maria.

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