The mystery surrounding the disappearance of David Boggs began in the summer of 2018, with the sending an “inappropriate image” and thousands of dollars in extortion, according to Paducah police.

It ended with the arrest of the former Barbecue on the River director at a trailer park in South Carolina.

David Boggs Jr. was apprehended Thursday, 571 days after his disappearance in November 2018.

Paducah Police Chief Brian Laird said Thursday that Boggs, 50, sent the image to “someone” and was then scammed into believing the recipient had been underage.

“It was not true,” said Laird, calling the extortion “a common social media scam.”

According to Laird, Boggs initially sent thousands of dollars of his own money to pay off the scammers, and that he eventually began dipping into Barbecue on the River money.

Laird said Boggs took just under $25,000 from the nonprofit and paid a similar amount of his own money, which was traced “overseas.”

In the weeks and months following Boggs’ disappearance, police and the Coast Guard searched parks and riverbanks, searched from the skies with a drone and entered Boggs into a missing person database.

By mid-2019, police had declared there were no new leads in the Boggs investigation, but that changed in April of this year when a medical bill arrived at Boggs’ former Paducah address, Laird said.

The bill led investigators to an area in South Carolina known for having a large homeless population, and Laird said police identified Boggs in a video and a photo of a homeless outreach organization giving handouts.

Laird said Boggs spoke with detectives Thursday morning and admitted to stealing the money. Boggs told police that the day he was reported missing he slept in the woods then began trying to hitchhike to Florida.

Boggs said he spent six months living in the woods while on the run, before eventually moving into the mobile home park.

Laird said Paducah officers worked with Lexington County, South Carolina, law enforcement to arrest Boggs, who will need to be extradited to face his Kentucky charges.

Laird said he was “incredibly proud” of the PPD’s “great police work” in not giving up in the search for Boggs.

Laird didn’t know if Boggs had yet retained a local attorney, and a Barbecue on the River official did not return a request for comment.

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