‘It’s been a roller coaster of emotions:’ Clinkscales’ family, friends react to vehicle’s discovery

Published 8:00 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

When the Troup County Sheriff’s Office announced on Wednesday that Kyle Clinkscales’ 1974 Ford Pinto was found, family and friends were left to wrap their minds around the news and what it would mean for the 45-year-old case. Unfortunately, Louise and John Clinkscales died before the discovery of Kyle’s car. John died in 2007, while Louise died earlier this year.

John and Louise Clinkscales dedicated their lives to helping families in similar situations to theirs.

Martha Morris, Louise’s sister, said she has been on a roller coaster of emotions since Kyle’s car was found.

“It’s been a roller coaster of emotions. When we first heard it, of course, after 45 years it came as a shock, but we’re so grateful that we now know what and where the body has been for 45 years,” Morris said.

Paul Baxter, the former pastor at First Baptist Church on the Square and close friend of the Clinkscales, said he felt Kyle’s parents received closure from the trial of Jimmy Earle Jones’ trial.

Jones’ trial was for providing false statements during the course of the investigation. He was not charged with murder.

John, left, and Louise, right, traveled extensively during their marriage including trips across the United States, Europe, and the Middle East.

“They got some measure of closure,” Baxter said.

Paul Blair, the pastoral care minister at FBC, spoke at Louise’s funeral in January. He said her faith was evident, and he spoke on it during her funeral.

“She remained faithful to the Lord and realized that God was in control, and he’s sovereign. And that one day everything would be resolved, whether in this life or the next. To my knowledge, that’s basically what was said [at] the funeral,” Blair said.

Baxter was at her funeral as well and recalled that he said he liked her because she was a “big dog person.”

“I think I said this at her funeral. I like big dog people. I don’t like little dog people,” Baxter said. “Louise was a big dog person. If she had something to say, she would tell you. If she had something to say, then I needed to hear it because there was a good reason for it. I like people like that.”

Morris said she remembered telling Baxter that she believed her sister helped push God to let everyone know about Kyle once she got to heaven.

“I told him, I said, after Louise got through talking to everybody in heaven that she’s been wanting to talk to, she probably said, OK, now let’s get this show on the road and complete this for everybody left behind,” Morris said.

Morris said she hopes her sister and brother-in-law are remembered for the impact they had on families in similar situations.

Louise and John Clinkscales were avid campers and would regularly camp in Troup County.

“When we were going through some of her things this past year, we found letters from people thanking them for helping them find their child or find out something about their child,” Morris said.

“They were so instrumental in this that President Reagan gave them an award there in Washington.”

Baxter said he will continue to remember Louise as he continues his work as a pastor in the community.

“Louise was one of those people that was really strong-willed, extremely honest and forthright. The kind of person that can intimidate some people and aggravate some people,” Baxter said. “I always liked and respected and loved her.”

As for the remaining members of Clinkscales’ family, they will be hosting a memorial service at their church to remember Kyle, Louise, and John.

“We are going to have a memorial when we have verification that these bones are Kyle’s. We’re going to have a memorial there at church for Kyle, Louise and JD,” Morris said. “We’re going to have it because I’d like for anyone who wants to have the opportunity to pay their last respects to be there.”

The Clinkscales pose for a picture after church in May of 1965. Louise and John attended First Baptist Church on the Square during their lives in LaGrange.