Sheriff Under Scrutiny Disappears From State

LEWISTON — Nez Perce County Commissioners vacated the County Sheriff’s Office Monday since Sheriff Jim Dorion has been missing for more than three months and no one will confirm his exact whereabouts.

Dorion requested medical leave from commissioners on May 1st, saying he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and was needing some time off for medical treatment. However several weeks after his request for 90 days of medical leave was granted Dorion disappeared.

He sold his home and his checks have been getting forwarded to his parents’ home in the Lewiston area.

Dorion, it’s now been confirmed, has actually left Idaho and is in Texas. His 90 days of medical leave expired August 1st and county commissioners declared the position was vacant since they have not been able to locate Dorion.

If he could, Nez Perce County Commission Chair Ron Wittman would ask Jim Dorion one question.

“Where have you been?” Wittman said.

It’s a question many people have, but no one can answer.

“We haven’t heard from him,” Acting Nez Perce County Sheriff Dale Buttrey said. “We’re talking about the sheriff.  A colleague, a friend.”

After he went on medical leave he disappeared from the public eye and eventually no one could reach him, not even his own attorney.

“Whether he’s dying of pancreatic cancer or not doesn’t excuse not keeping us informed or responding to our inquires,” Nez Perce County Prosecutor Dan Spickler said.

Dorion was still being paid around $67,000 and when his 90-day medical leave expired and he was still missing the county’s good faith efforts to reach him wore thin.

“We did give Sheriff Dorion his due diligence and now we’ve got to take care of what we feel is right for the taxpayers,” Commissioner Wittman said.

So commissioners vacated the sheriff’s office, expressing their frustration, concern and hope that Dorion comes forward.

“We don’t need medical records, we just want to know from your doctor that you truly are sick,” Wittman said.

Dorion’s relevation that he had pancreatic cancer came as he was facing increasing scrutiny for on-the-job behavior that was erratic at times and included failure to show up for work and fell off his horse with the sheriff’s possee at the Asotin County Parade. That incident led to his admission he had been drinking and “self-medicating” due to his alleged cancer diagnosis.

Unfortunately, the story gets stranger because no one can actually confirm he was diagnosed with cancer. Neither county commissioners nor his own attorney have been able to locate him and there have been rumblings around the county that Dorion isn’t really sick after all.

Dorion withdrew from re-election for sheriff when he announced his alleged medical condition in May, asking county commissioners to have Chief Deputy Dale Buttrey take over as interim sheriff until the next election.

Dorion’s mother Darlene said that her son is at a cancer clinic near Houston, Texas, that he is sick and that she has been grieving for quite a while now. The county sympathizes, but says it has to move on.

“It’s so odd, I wish we could just sweep it under the rug and I wish it would’ve never happened,” Wittman said.

While they hope to hear from him, Nez Perce county leaders say they doubt they will ever hear from Jim Dorion again.