By John Clise
I was working at Buckhannon office of the Elkins Inter-Mountain when Luke Stout went missing.
We’d had another murder possibly related to Luke’s disappearance, and unrelated, a three-year-old girl one county over go missing allegedly in the middle of the night from her bedroom.
This all took place in the span of a about a year. The community was shaken to say the least.
I’d talked to Luke a few times around town. Nothing of any substance. The weather mainly I’d say. Probably the price of a bottle of pop or something like that.
He seemed like a nice guy. Polite. Well-mannered.
When he came up missing, I would have to say I was shocked. Joshua Oberg had been missing since January. His body was recovered about a week after Luke went missing.
I got weird vibes from Chino Correa on the very few times I talked to him. He had a restaurant not far from our office. I had actually been advised to stay away from him and his wife. I’d been trying to get a story on their restaurant. In retrospect I was probably just hoping to get some free food out of the story deal.
To begin with I thought maybe he skipped town for a while out of fear for his safety. I’d hoped he show back up in 2015 after Chino Correa went to jail in relation to Joshua Oberg’s murder, but he did not. It’s been six years since then, and still no reports of Luke anywhere.
Luke was known for his devotion to his family. Getting out of town for a while for their safety, if he thought they would be in danger, seemed to make sense to me then.
He was 24 at the time of his disappearance and would be 33 today. One identifying mark on his body, as reported at the time, is a large burn scar on his leg below the knee. He also reportedly has tattoos on his upper left arm.
I’m sharing the story on Luke from the Charlie Project as they have done a fairly thorough job on reporting the details of the case in an objective and complete manner. It fills in all of the details.
According to the Charlie Project, Stout was last seen at his residence on Hickory Flat Road outside Buckhannon, West Virginia between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. on July 18, 2012. He told his mother and brother that he loved them and would be back later that day. He was last seen walking down the driveway, carrying a green bicycle frame; he had made plans to get a ride to meet a friend and fix the bicycle.
He planned to give the repaired bicycle to his friend, and then his friend would help Stout fix his own bicycle, which had damaged handlebars and had been left in Buckhannon. Stout has never been heard from again. A few days after his disappearance, his brothers found his bicycle leaning against a trailer behind a pharmacy in Buckhannon. It had not been repaired.
Prior to his disappearance, Stout told people that Rodolfo Villagomez “Chino” Correa had threatened him and held a gun to his forehead. Stout attempted to file a report with the police about this, but he was turned away.
Correa pleaded guilty to in 2015, in connection with the January 2012 disappearance and murder of Joshua Oberg. The victim’s body wasn’t found until July 23, 2012, five days after Stout’s disappearance. Because Oberg was having an affair with Correa’s wife, Correa hired two of his wife’s cousins to kill him. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Stout also knew Correa’s wife, and there were rumors that they were seeing each other at some point prior to Stout’s disappearance. This has not been verified and Correa has not been linked to his case.
It’s uncharacteristic of Stout to leave without warning. He was very devoted to his family and was living with and caring for his mother, who was terminally ill. He is a skilled carpenter who had been practicing the trade for several years by the time of his disappearance, and he is also a talented artist. His case remains unsolved.
If you have any information regarding or related to Luke’s disappearance, please call the Buckhannon Detachment of the West Virginia State Police at 304-473-4200.