Car of missing college student found 45 years later, with skeletal remains inside

·2-min read
Kyle Clinkscales’ mother holds up a photo of her son, who went missing in 1976  (1996 AP)
Kyle Clinkscales’ mother holds up a photo of her son, who went missing in 1976 (1996 AP)

The car of a missing college student has been found 45 years after he disappeared.

Police say the vehicle had been submerged in a creek in Chambers County, Alabama. On Tuesday, a 911 caller reported seeing the car, and sheriff’s deputies dragged it out of the water. After running the licence plate numbers, they were able to identify the vehicle as that of Kyle Clinkscales, a 22-year-old Auburn University student who went missing in 1976.

“For 45 years, we’ve looked for this young man and looked for this car,” Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said at a press conference with Chambers County’s Major Terry Wood. “We’ve drained lakes, and we’ve looked here and looked there, and ran this theory down and that theory down, and it’s always turned out nothing. And finally yesterday, just out of the blue, Major Wood calls us and he’s got the car.”

Inside the 1974 Pinto Runabout, police said they found a number of materials that helped identify Mr Clinkscales.

“We were able to locate a wallet inside the car,” Mr Woodruff said. “Inside that wallet was his ID and several credit cards.”

In addition, the deputies found skeletal remains.

“We’ve also located several bones inside the car,” the sheriff said. “We believe those to be human in nature.”

Mr Woodruff emphasised, however, that the bones have not yet been tested to determine if they belong to Mr Clinkscales. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is currently examining them.

Mr Clinkscales was last seen on 27 January, 1976, as he was leaving his job in LaGrange, Georgia to drive back to Auburn University, about 45 miles away.

He never made it. His parents filed a missing person report, and for years they waited for answers on what happened to their son.

Sadly, those answers did not come in time. Mr Clinkscales’ father died in 2007, and his mother died earlier this year at the age of 92.

“It was always her hope that he would come home. It was always our hope that we would find him for her before she passed away,” Mr Woodruff said. “Just the fact that we have hopefully found him, and the car, brings me a big sigh of relief.”

Though his car has been found, Mr Clinkscales’ cause of death has not yet been determined, and many questions remain. Mr Woodruff said he hopes the GBI will answer them.

“I want to see what the GBI finds in the car,” the sheriff said. “How many bones did they find? Did they find a skull? Is there something that we can take to the crime lab and determine if there was foul play? Was he murdered and left there? Did he run off the road and wreck there? Those are some things we hope to discover.”

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