(OUR VIEW) 45 years later: A cold case we never thought would be reopened

Published 9:30 am Saturday, December 11, 2021

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Since 1976, many have wondered about the mysterious disappearance of Kyle Clinkscales. The 22-year-old Auburn student left his job at the Moose Lounge in LaGrange to head back to his dorm room at Auburn, but he never made it.

And the unknowns of what happened have been talked about in some circles of Troup County for 45 years. Of course, that talk has quieted over the last decade after a man was convicted for false statements in the case. No one was ever convicted of murder, though the rumors of what might’ve happened to Kyle have swirled for years. They’ve almost become wise tales. Anyone who has lived in Troup County for a while has undoubtedly heard one.

And that appeared to be the way it would last forever. No one would ever know exactly what happened.

But then Tuesday arrived. The Chambers County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about a car spotted in a creek off of Highway 83. As it turns out, that car was Clinkscales’ Ford Pinto, confirmed via the vin number, model and his belongings inside the vehicle.

Bones were also found in the car. Those remains have not yet been confirmed to be Clinkscales, but at this point it’d be surprising for it to be anyone else.

Clinkscales’ original disappearance captivated parts of the country. His story was told in newspapers and TV shows all across the United States, although news traveled slower then before the internet. It’s now being told all over the country again, featured on just about every national network and website.

His parents, John and Louise, searched every nook and cranny to try to find him, even asking psychics to help locate him. A man even stepped forward in the 80s to say he was Kyle Clinkscales, but it as quickly determined that he wasn’t. A lake was drained looking for evidence.

It’s the kind of storyline you’d expect to play out in a Lifetime movie, but these are real lives. This isn’t Hollywood. Sadly, after spending so much of their lives searching for their one and only son, Clinkscales’ parents are both deceased and weren’t around to see this day. Reading old newspaper articles, it’s easy to see how much this discovery would’ve meant to them. They held on to any hope for years, just as any of us would if we were put in their shoes.

And now, out of nowhere, this random discovery has given renewed hope that we can learn what truly happened to Kyle Clinkscales. 

Of course, there’s a lot we still don’t know. In fact, there are new questions, and some of them may never be answered. We may never truly know what happened.

But at least we now know what happened to his car, and possibly, his body.

May he rest in peace. Our thoughts are with his remaining family, as well as with all who have played a role in this case over the years.

Hopefully, more answers are ahead as this case continues to evolve nearly five decades after it first started.