The night before his body was found underneath a Spokane bridge, William P. Pickard told his family he was going to one of his favorite bars.
But staff at the Swinging Doors in north Spokane say they never saw the longtime customer that night.
Pickard, 38, was found dead about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday under the Sunset Boulevard bridge on the west bank of Latah Creek in High Bridge Park.
An autopsy didn’t immediately reveal his cause of death. Homicide detectives know Pickard fell from the bridge, but they don’t know if he was dead or alive when it happened, said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe.
They hope his 2007 white Mercury Mariner will provide clues. Police located the car 7 p.m. Thursday in the 1500 block of West Glass after a report of a suspicious vehicle, said Cpl. Mike Carr.
“It was just parked on the side of the road,” Carr said. Detectives are scouring it for fingerprints and other clues.
Staff at the Swinging Doors, 1018 W. Francis Ave., said they’re working with police to see if surveillance video shows the car in the bar’s parking lot Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Pickard’s family is grieving a man they say valued friends and family above everything and was just a few classes away from graduating from Spokane Falls Community College.
He wanted to be a substance abuse counselor to help people experiencing the same problems he did when he was young, his family said.
“He’d been through the wringer on that,” said his father, Donald Pickard. “He was turning his life around.”
Pickard, who had no serious criminal record, graduated from North Central High School in 1990, where he played football and wrestled.
He loved wrestling and fight sports like boxing and mixed martial arts. He often watched the events at the Swinging Doors. Pickard move to Las Vegas for three years after high school but returned to Spokane, where he has two daughters, 15-year-old Taylor Pickard and 17-year-old Shayla Pickard.
He lived in a home in northwest Spokane before renting his parent’s basement just a couple weeks ago.
“Bill was a good friend (and) a good father,” said Bobby Caruso. The two met in high school and became fast friends. Pickard helped spark a passion for wrestling in Caruso’s son.
Pickard was especially good with children and elderly people and spent hours with his older relatives, his family said.
“He wanted to be involved with the people that he loved,” Caruso said.
Caruso said the family still is in “disbelief” about what happened.
“You talk to somebody on the phone, and a few days later they’re dead,” Caruso said. “You feel numb. And more than anything - curiosity about what happened.”