Remains confirmed to be Kyle Clinkscales but questions remain

Published 9:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

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The remains found inside Kyle Clinkscales’ car that was found in a Chambers County creek in December 2021 have been confirmed to be the missing Auburn student, according to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

Clinkscales white 1974 Ford Pinto was recovered in December 2021 from a creek off of County Road 83 in Cusseta. The VIN on the vehicle confirmed it was Clinkscales.

Bones were found inside the car that was thought to be Clinkscales’ remains along with his wallet. After the remains were recovered, they were sent to the GBI Crime Lab.

TCSO Public Information Officer Sgt. Stewart Smith said the remains were confirmed by the GBI using DNA analysis.

Clinkscales, then 22 years old, disappeared on the night of Jan. 27, 1976, while driving back to school in Auburn from his job at the Moose Club in LaGrange. His whereabouts were unknown for 45 years leading to speculation about what happened to him.

Throughout the years, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office received numerous tips about where Clinkscales’ body may be hidden, but he remained missing, even after excavating an area in southeast Troup County where he had purportedly been buried and draining a lake to look for the body.

“Of course, we’re relieved. It just confirmed our suspicions that it was him. We had to get the official notification in order to confirm it,” Woodruff said. “I’m happy that they were able to positively identify him.  I hope this gives his extended family some closure.”

When asked whether he believes Clinkscales could have simply driven off the road into the creek, Woodruff said he doesn’t know and may never know.

“There are so many rumors that have been speculated throughout the years that I guess it would make sense that he drove off the road and just was never found,” Woodruff said. “People have told me that through the years, we’ve had droughts and that the water level goes down. Why didn’t anybody ever see the car before? That was a big question.”

At the time the vehicle was found, authorities said they believed the rear hatch of the Pinto had popped up above the water line allowing the vehicle to be seen.

“We don’t know if it rusted out and came open or if the water had gone down,” former Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart said at the time.

“There are some questions that I don’t think we’ll ever have answers or not definitive answers. There will always be rumors and speculation about what really happened,” Woodruff said.

Smith said no official determination of cause of death has been made at this time and the case is still under investigation.