Chilling find 45 years after student, 22, disappeared

·3-min read

Police have revealed a massive breakthrough in the 45-year-old cold case of a missing university student.

Sheriff’s officials from Troup County in the US state of Georgia announced on Wednesday (local time) they had finally found the 1974 Pinto belonging to Kyle Clinkscales, a 22-year-old Auburn University student who disappeared in 1976.

The car was pulled from a creek near Cusseta, about an hour’s drive from campus, on Tuesday after it was spotted by a passerby.

Sheriff James Woodruff said during a press conference police found what are believed to be human bones, and identification and credit cards belonging to Mr Clinkscales inside the car.

Kyle Clinkscales is pictured left. Right is a photo of his Pinto being pulled from a creek.
Kyle Clinkscales, a 22-year-old Auburn University student, disappeared in 1976. Source: Troup County Sheriff's Department

Two human bones have been found so far but investigators are searching the muddy car for any others before confirming if the remains belong to the 22-year-old, he said.

“For 45 years, we’ve looked for this young man and looked for this car,” the sheriff said.

“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 [Terry] Wood (from the Sheriff's Department) calls us and he’s got the car.”

Foul play not ruled out in disappearance

Mr Clinkscales was last seen on January 27, 1976, leaving his bartending job in LaGrange to drive 72 kilometres back to Auburn, but never arrived.

His parents filed a missing person’s report, but never learnt what happened to their only child before their deaths in 2007 and early 2021.

Sheriff Woodruff said it was always his mum’s hope her son would return home.

“It was always our hope that we would find him for her before she passed away,” he said.

Louise Clinkscales holds a photo of her son, Kyle, at 21 in this undated file photo.
Kyle's mum Louise Clinkscales died earlier this year. Source: Renee Hannis/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

“Just the fact that we have hopefully found him, and the car, brings me a big sigh of relief.”

Sheriff Woodruff said many questions about Mr Clinkscales’ disappearance remain unanswered and did not rule out foul play.

“I want to see what the GBI finds in the car, how many bones they find, do they find a skull?” he said.

“Was he murdered and left there? Did he run off the road and wreck there? That’s something we hope to discover, but it’s been 45 years.”

Two people arrested over case in 2005

Authorities in Troup County have previously said Mr Clinkscales was killed.

In 2005, they arrested two people in connection with his disappearance after they said his parents received a call from a man who said he witnessed the disposal of their son’s body as a seven-year-old, and it was covered with concrete in a barrel and dumped into a pond, according to news reports.

The two people were accused of making false statements.

Pete Skandalakis, who was district attorney at the time, said he made the decision not to indict one of those people.

The other pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements and spent seven years and eight months behind bars.

With AP

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