Major lead found on Auburn student missing since 1974

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For 45 years, the disappearance of 22-year-old Auburn University student Kyle Clinkscales remained a mystery. But answers may finally be coming after his 1974 Ford Pinto was pulled from an Alabama creek on Tuesday.

On Jan. 27, 1976, Clinkscales left work in Lagrange, Georgia, and started the 45-mile drive back to Auburn. He never made it.

“For 45 years, we’ve looked for this young man and looked for this car,” said Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff. “We drained lakes and we looked here and looked there and ran this theory down at that theory down. It’s always turned out nothing.”

Inside the car was human remains along with a wallet and Clinkscales’ ID. The car was found submerged in an unnamed creek under County Road 83 in Chambers County, about 3 miles from Interstate 85 and halfway between Lagrange and Auburn.

“We’ve called the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) currently, and they’re at our facility taking that car apart,” Woodruff said.

On Thursday, investigators revealed they’d found

In 2005, two people were arrested in connection with Clinkscales’ disappearance. Jimmy Earl Jones was charged with concealing a death, hindering a criminal’s arrest and two counts of making false statements. Jeanne Pawlak Johnson was charged with concealing a death, making false statements and obstructing justice. Jones served five years in prison on the making false statement charges.

Jones and Johnson claimed another man, Ray Hyde, was responsible for Cinkscales’ death. Hyde died in 2001.

“What does this mean for the two arrests made back in 2005 in regards to this case?” Woodruff said. “I can’t speak to those because I was not part of that arrest.”

Investigators aren’t ruling out foul play in the case, but Woodruff said they may be unable to determine a cause of death after so long.

Clinkscales’ father died in 2007. His mother died earlier this year, still searching for answers on what happened to her son.

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