'For 45 Years, We've Looked for This Young Man and This Car'

Remains found in December 2021 are those of Kyle Clinkscales
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2021 1:35 PM CST
Updated Feb 21, 2023 2:50 AM CST
'For 45 Years, We've Looked for This Young Man and This Car'
Kyle Clinkscales.   (Troup County Sheriff's Office Facebook)
UPDATE Feb 21, 2023 2:50 AM CST

More than a year after investigators in Alabama recovered a car and bones they believed were tied to a 1976 cold case comes a positive identification. The remains are indeed those of Kyle Clinkscales, the 22-year-old Auburn University student who vanished while making the 45-mile drive home from his bartending job. The car was pulled from a creek in Cusseta, Alabama, in December 2021 and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation subsequently arranged for a DNA analysis of the recovered bones. It remains unclear whether foul play might have been involved, notes Fox News: "An official report has not been completed or released by the GBI as it relates to a manner of death," said the Troup County Sheriff's Office in a Sunday Facebook post.

Dec 8, 2021 1:35 PM CST

Investigators have discovered the 1974 Pinto a 22-year-old student was driving on his way back to Auburn University from Georgia when he disappeared more than 45 years ago, sheriff's officials announced Wednesday. Kyle Clinkscales' car was pulled from a creek around Cusseta, Alabama, on Tuesday after a man called 911 to say he believed he had spotted a vehicle, reports the AP. Inside the car, investigators found what they think are human bones along with identification and credit cards belonging to Clinkscales, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said at a news conference.

The sheriff's office said on Facebook that the tag and VIN number are a match with those of the Pinto Clinkscales was driving when he left LaGrange, Georgia, on January 27, 1976. He was making the 45-mile drive back to Auburn from his bartending job, but never showed up. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is looking through the muddy vehicle for additional bones and will determine whether the two found so far belong to Clinkscales, Woodruff said. Woodruff did not rule out foul play in Clinkscales' disappearance. "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."

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Authorities in 2005 arrested two people in Clinkscales’ disappearance. Woodruff said he was not involved in those arrests and could not comment on them, but AL.com fills in some details, saying Jimmy Earl Jones, then 63, was charged with concealing the death of Clinkscales among other charges. The local sheriff at the time said Jones admitted to moving Clinkscales' body but didn't know how he died. AL.com didn't know the outcome of that case. "For 45 years, we’ve looked for this young man and looked for this car," he 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." Clinkscales' father died in 2007, and his mother died this year. He was their only child.

(Read more cold cases stories.)

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