Nearly 46 years ago, 22-year-old Kyle Clinkscales vanished on his way back to school from his hometown in Georgia.
The Auburn University student was making the roughly 45-mile drive from LaGrange, Georgia, on the night of Jan. 27, 1976, in his Ford Pinto but never arrived, according to the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. For decades, investigators followed hundreds of leads but never made any substantial developments in the case — until now.
On Tuesday, Dec. 7, authorities in Alabama found his Ford Pinto, which had also been missing, submerged in a creek.
Deputies with the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of a car in the creek off County Road 83, about 1 mile from County Road 388, the Troup County Sheriff’s Office said. They pulled the car from the water and discovered it was “an older model Ford passenger car with a 1976 Georgia tag with a Troup County decal.”
They then called officials in Troup County and asked them if they were looking for a Ford Pinto, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said in a news conference streamed live by CBS46. Troup County officials matched the tag number to the car that Clinkscales was last seen driving on the night he disappeared.
Officials said during the news conference that the area where the car was found was a few miles off the “main route” Clinkscales would have taken back to Auburn University.
Inside the car, investigators found Clinkscales’ wallet, which included his ID, and several bones believed to be human, Woodruff said during the news conference on Wednesday, Dec. 8.
“We’ve called in the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation),” he said. “They are currently at our facility taking that car apart if they can, looking at what’s in it to determine how many bones are in there and if they are indeed his bones.”
Woodruff said during the news conference the next steps in the investigation will depend on what the GBI finds.
“I want to see what the GBI finds in the car — how many bones they find, do they find a skull, is there something that we can take to the crime lab and determine if there was foul play, was he murdered and left there, did he run off the road and wreck there? That’s some things we hope to discover,” he said. “But it’s been 45 years.”
Woodruff noted that Clinkscales’ mother died earlier in 2021. His father died in 2007.
“It was always her hope that he would come home. It was always our hope to find him for her before she passed away,” Woodruff said. “So just the fact that we have hopefully found him in the car brings me a big sigh of relief.”
Woodruff said it’s “wonderful” to get answers on the case despite not being able to share it with Clinkscales’ mother.
“For 45 years, we’ve looked for this young man and looked for this car, and we drained lakes and we looked here and looked there and ran this theory down and that theory down,” he said.