Friends mourn the death of Bolivar, Mo. attorney missing since Friday
The four day search by various law enforcement agencies for a Springfield attorney from Bolivar has ended with a tragic outcome.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol issued an Endangered Person Advisory for John David Hacker, 39, over the weekend after he left the family's lake home north of Bolivar.Authorities searched that area by foot and helicopter.
His body was discovered Tuesday night in Pomme de Terre Lake.
The dreaded outcome brought sadness and shock in Bolivar where Hacker grew up and graduated from Bolivar High School in 1998.
"He was good in a way that made us want to be better," said Kcee Reichert, a senior classmate of Hacker, a three-sport star who received college scholarship offers in football, basketball and baseball.
"He was phenomenal at everything he did. Incredibly brilliant," Reichert added.
Hacker graduated from Missouri State and the Creighton University Law School before becoming an attorney in Springfield in 2005. In 2014 he received the Equal Access Justice Award from the Springfield Metropolitan Bar Association for his dedication in representing indigent clients.
But according to a press release by the bar association, in recent years Hacker suffered from depression and his unexpected death hit family and friends hard.
"He deserved a long life filled with all the goodness and happiness he brought others," Reichert said.
According to the Polk Co. Sheriff's Office there were no signs of foul play and there is no ongoing investigation. The cause of death has not yet been determined but an autopsy is expected to be performed in the coming days.
The Metropolitan Bar Association's press release also mentions Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) as a possible cause of Hacker's depression, pointing out numerous concussions during his football career.
Cox Medical Director for Sports Medicine Dr. Shannon Woods says CTE does cause changes in personality.
"You may see mood swings, depression, anxiety," he pointed out.
But he also explained that CTE can only be diagnosed after a person's death with an examination of the brain tissue.
"As of right now, the only people that have exhibited the symptoms where they have changes in their behavior or have this dementia-like effect have been professional athletes," Woods said.
Reichert, who worked at a pharmacy prescribing antidepressant medications, says regardless of what caused Hacker's mental problems, dealing with the illness is a struggle.
"He had everyone around him wanting to help him and I think it just highlights how very, very difficult mental health is to deal with and treat," she said. "The love that we all had for him wasn't the medicine to cure what he was suffering from."