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Vehicle of Missing Student and Partial Remains Found in Creek After 45 Years

by A.W. Naves 5 months ago in investigation
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Kyle Clinkscales disappeared while returning to Auburn University in 1976 — Was it an accident or foul play?

Kyle and his recently recovered Pinto (Troup County Sheriff’s Office)

On January 27, 1976, Kyle Clinkscales completed his shift at the Moose Club, a bar in LaGrange, Georgia. He went out to his car, intent on making the 35-mile drive from his job in his hometown to Auburn University in Alabama. He never arrived at his destination.

Now, there is finally a new development in the case. On December 7, 2021, Clinkscales’ 1974 Pinto was pulled from a Cusseta, Alabama creek not far from Interstate 85, which runs between LaGrange and Auburn.

Police were led to the location when a man called 911 to report he had spotted a vehicle in the water. When it was pulled from the murky depths in which it had resided for more than four and a half decades, there were only two human bones present. However, identification and credit cards belonging to Clinkscale were recovered from the vehicle, according to Sheriff James Woodruff of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

Currently, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is searching through the deteriorated and muddy car for any additional bones that might be present. All human remains recovered from the vehicle will need to be sent for forensic analysis before they can positively identify them as belonging to Clinkscale, Woodruff told reporters at a news conference after the discovery had been made public.

Kyle's car being pulled from the creek (Troup County Sheriff's Office)

The authorities in charge of the case had previously believed that Clinkscales was murdered. Local news reports show that two suspects were arrested in 2005. The arrests came after Clinkscale’s parents received a call from a man who said he witnessed their son’s body being placed into a barrel which was then filled with concrete and dumped into a pond. Though the man would have been in his mid-thirties at the time of the arrests, he would have only been 7 years old when he claims to have seen the disposal taking place.

Pete Skandalakis, the district attorney at the time of the arrests, elected to only indict one of the suspects though both were accused of making false statements to police. With no body to confirm a murder, authorities had to settle for what they could prove. The remaining suspect pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements and remained incarcerated for seven years and eight months.

It is not clear what the current status of the investigation might be or what might become of the 2005 convictions related to the case. Both Herb Cranford, Troup County’s current district attorney, and Sheriff Woodruff have withheld comment on either situation while the investigation is ongoing. The sheriff did have this to say:

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

It is not clear why the car surfaced after all this time. It was found in an area beneath a bridge. Whether it became visible because the water level was low, because the rear hatch had somehow popped open above the water level, or a combination of both is unknown at this point.

There won’t likely be any new information from law enforcement on the case until the authorities get more information from various forensic labs on what is being recovered from the car and the identity of the partial remains. Sheriff Woodruff has already indicated that they are focused on getting what answers they can find after so many years have passed. He had this to say in that regard:

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

Clinkscales’ father, John Dixon Clinkscales, wrote a book called “Kyle’s Story: Friday Never Came” about his son’s disappearance. He also established a non-profit missing person organization called “Find Me Inc.”

Clinkscale’s father passed away in 2007. His mother died earlier this year. Kyle was their only child, so there is no immediate family to witness this latest development, but hopefully, his memory can finally be put to rest with the resolution of this 45-year-old cold case.

On January 27, 1976, Kyle Clinkscales completed his shift at the Moose Club, a bar in LaGrange, Georgia. He went out to his car, intent on making the 35-mile drive from his job in his hometown to Auburn University in Alabama. He never arrived at his destination.

For the past 45 years, the investigation into his disappearance has remained open, but there have been no clues as to what happened to the missing 22-year-old Auburn Student.

Now, there is finally a new development in the case. On December 7, 2021, Clinkscales’ 1974 Pinto was pulled from a Cusseta, Alabama creek not far from Interstate 85, which runs between LaGrange and Auburn.

Police were led to the location when a man called 911 to report he had spotted a vehicle in the water. When it was pulled from the murky depths in which it had resided for more than four decades, there were only two human bones present. However, identification and credit cards belonging to Clinkscale were recovered from the vehicle, according to Sheriff James Woodruff of the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

Currently, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is searching through the deteriorated and muddy car for any additional bones that might be present. All human remains recovered from the vehicle will need to be sent for forensic analysis before they can positively identify them as belonging to Clinkscale, Woodruff told reporters at a news conference after the discovery had been made public.

The authorities in charge of the case had previously believed that Clinkscales was murdered. Local news reports show that two suspects were arrested in 2005. The arrests came after Clinkscale’s parents received a call from a man who said he witnessed their son’s body being placed into a barrel which was then filled with concrete and dumped into a pond. Though the man would have been in his mid-thirties at the time of the arrests, he would have only been 7 years old when he claims to have seen the disposal take place.

Pete Skandalakis, the district attorney at the time of the arrests, elected to only indict one of the suspects though both were accused of making false statements to police. With no body to confirm a murder, authorities had to settle for what they could prove. The remaining suspect pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements and remained incarcerated for seven years and eight months.

It is not clear what the current status of the investigation might be or what might become of the 2005 convictions related to the case. Both Herb Cranford, Troup County’s current district attorney and Sheriff Woodruff have withheld comment on either situation while the investigation is ongoing. The sheriff did have this to say:

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

It is not clear why the car surfaced after all this time. It was found in an area beneath a bridge. Whether it became visible because the water level was low, because the rear hatch had somehow popped open above the water level or a combination of both is unknown at this point.

There won’t likely be any new information from law enforcement on the case until they get more information from assorted labs on what is being recovered from the car. Sheriff Woodruff has already indicated that they are focused on getting what answers they can find after so many years have passed.

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

Clinkscales’ father, John Dixon Clinkscales, wrote a book called “Kyle’s Story: Friday Never Came” about his son’s disappearance. He also established a non-profit missing person organization called “Find Me Inc.” Clinkscale’s father passed away in 2007. His mother died earlier this year. Kyle was their only child, so there is no immediate family to witness this latest development, but hopefully, his memory can finally be put to rest with resolution of this 45-year-old cold case.

investigation

About the author

A.W. Naves

Writer. Author. Alabamian.

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