Melven Evenson loved to drive.
Growing up on a farm, he began driving tractors and farm trucks when he was 9 years old. As an adult, he spent much of his life running chip trucks, water trucks and cement trucks.
“He could operate anything - tractors, backhoes, dump trucks,” his son, James Evenson says.
But it was in an everyday rig - a simple Mazda pickup - that Evenson was found dead.
Kootenai County sheriff’s officials announced Tuesday that it appears the Post Falls man was killed, at least in part, by a blow to the head.
Last week, he was found naked and buried underneath a load of crushed boxes in the bed of a pickup relatives say he had recently traded an engine for. It was parked 100 yards off Chilco Road in a stand of trees.
Kootenai County sheriff’s deputies are waiting for the return of toxicology reports to determine whether any other factors contributed to his death.
Evenson was the second youngest of six children raised in the Priest River and Rathdrum areas of North Idaho. Joyce Boschee, the oldest of the children, was 9 years old when her brother was born.
“Our dad worked in a logging camp, mom did the farm work and I took care of the house and the kids,” Boschee says. “I used to chase him a lot.”
After attending school in Rathdrum, Evenson enlisted in the Navy where he worked on airplanes. He married for the first time in the Philippines and had a daughter named Sandra.
“He would have been a grandfather next month,” Boschee says, explaining she found out the news when she called Evenson’s daughter to tell her about the death.
During a second marriage, Evenson had another daughter whom family members have not seen for years and have not been able to find.
In 1978, Evenson married for the third time and had two children, Sheila, now 20, and James, now 19.
James remembers his father taking them fishing near Priest River.
“We’d fish down the creeks until we got to the river and then we’d fish the river,” James says.
Sheila remembers the road trips with her father.
“He’d let us sit on his lap and drive,” Sheila says. “He still had a hold of the wheel but we thought we were cool.”
On March 21 - a day before he would have turned 53 - Evenson disappeared.
“I called to wish him a happy birthday and he wasn’t there,” Sheila Evenson says.
Her father had some trouble in life. In years past, he’d been charged with drunken driving and possession of drug paraphernalia - a charge that was later dismissed in a plea agreement, according to court records.
But family members said he wasn’t the kind to disappear. “He was never gone more than two days and he would always tell someone where he was going,” Boschee said.
And he never missed visiting time with his 105-year-old grandmother. Until Easter Sunday.
“That’s how we knew something was wrong,” Boschee says.
On April 16, the new owner of a Coeur d’Alene moving company found Evenson’s body in the pickup after the rig was reported abandoned north of Coeur d’Alene to sheriff’s deputies.
The businessman acquired the truck when he bought the moving company after Evenson had apparently fallen behind on payments, a sheriff’s detective said. He had been pulling moving boxes out of the back of the truck when he found Evenson.
When Boschee heard about the body found last week, she didn’t have to wait for it to be identified to know it was her brother. “I just got that sick feeling. I knew it was him.”
Now, the family is left waiting and wondering how Evenson died.
“I just have one picture that comes in my mind,” Sheila Evenson says. “I won’t describe it. It’s not good.”