TROUP COUNTY, Ga. (WRBL) – There is a significant break in the case of a missing Auburn University student who vanished 45 years ago from a LaGrange, Georgia bar. His vehicle, with human remains and a wallet inside, was pulled from a Chambers County creek this week.
On January 27, 1976, 22-year-old Kyle Clinkscales left the Moose Club, a bar he worked at in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia. Kyle planned to make the thirty-five-mile drive to Auburn University in Alabama, a junior. He never arrived.
This week, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office confirms Kyle’s white two-door 1974 Pinto Runabout with Georgia tag CEF-717 has been located in a Chambers County creek off County Road 83.
Sheriff James Woodruff held a news conference Wednesday morning to reveal additional information on the nearly 46-year-old cold case. Woodruff says on Tuesday, December 7th, around 11:20 a.m. deputies with the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office were notified of what appeared to be a car submerged in a creek off of County Road 83 approximately 1 mile from County Road 388.
“Once they arrived on the scene, they recovered the car from the water and it appeared to be an older model Ford passenger car with a 1976 Georgia tag with a Troup County decal. Chambers County contacted the Troup County Sheriff’s Office for assistance in trying to run the tag information. The Troup County tag office was contacted and investigators in our criminal investigations division began to check for any records we may have had,” said Sgt. Stewart Smith.
After verifying information, it was found the tag and VIN matched that of a 1974 Ford Pinto Runabout which was the same car that Kyle was last seen driving on the night of January 27th.
The vehicle was transported to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office where it is currently being processed by Special Agents with the GBI to determine the contents of the vehicle. At the time of this release, a wallet with identifying information and skeletal remains have been recovered.
According to previous news stories, in 2005, a man called Clinkscales’s parents and told them in 1976 he had witnessed the disposal of Clinkscales’s body when he was a young boy. The tipster said the body had been submerged in concrete, put in a barrel, and dumped in a pond on private property.
Previous news coverage indicates searches of the pond did not lead to a body. However, the tip led to the arrest of Jimmy Earl Jones and, later, Jeanne Pawlak Johnson. Jones was charged with concealing a death, hindering the apprehension of a criminal, and two counts of making false statements. Johnson was charged with concealing a death, making false statements, and obstructing justice. Neither has been charged with Clinkscales’s murder; investigators believe the actual killer was a man named Ray Hyde who died in 2001. Hyde had owned a salvage yard, and police dug it up looking for Clinkscales’s missing vehicle but never found it. Investigators say Clinkscales may have known about Hyde’s criminal activities, which involved car theft.
Investigators say Johnson was at Hyde’s home the night Clinkscales vanished, which she denied. Investigators believe Jones did not participate in the murder but helped dispose of the body. They think Hyde moved the body from the pond to an unknown location sometime afterward.
Wednesday, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office says questions regarding previous arrests, the trial, and sentence should be referred to the Troup County District Attorney’s Office. News 3 has a call into the district attorney and is awaiting more information.
Kyle’s father wrote a book about his disappearance, titled “Kyle’s Story: Friday Never Came.” He also established a non-profit missing person organization, “Find Me Inc.”
News 3 is told Kyle’s parents have passed away and remains devoted to locating their missing son while they were still alive.