OXFORD, Ala. (WIAT) — Since 1976, Martha Morrison has been looking for the answer to one question: what happened to Kyle Clinkscales?
Clinkscales, Morrison’s nephew, was a student at Auburn University who was last seen January 27, 1976 when he left work at the Moose Club bar in LaGrange, Georgia in his Pinto Runabout to go back to Alabama. The 22-year-old man was never seen again.
On December 7, 2021, Morrison was able to get some answers when Clinkscales’ car was unexpectedly located in a creek in Cusetta, Alabama by the Troup County Sheriff’s Office. Inside the car was Clinkscales’ ID, wallet, and several skeletal remains that were sent to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for testing.
“It was a shock because after 45 years, you tend to know that it’s out there, but you don’t think about it every day,” Morrison told CBS 42 shortly after Clinkscales’ car was found. “It was just an emotional breakthrough.”
However, many questions still remain unanswered for Morrison and those wanting answers in Clinkscales’ disappearance. For one, the GBI has yet to publicly identify the remains found in the car.
Shortly after Clinkscales’ car was found, Troup County (Georgia) Coroner Erin Hackley said it was possibly the remains could be identified as early as the spring. However, spring came and there were no answers. Then came summer.
“I assumed we would know something by now, but still waiting,” Hackley said back in August.
As of Thursday, the remains have yet to be publicly identified by GBI.
Sgt. Stewart Smith, public information officer with the Troup County Sheriff’s Office, said no word has come from GBI about the Clinkscales case.
“We are 99.9% sure those remains are that of Kyle Clinkscales,” Smith said. “It’s just a waiting game right now.”
Morrison said that while finding her nephew’s car was a major breakthrough, the last year has brought a lot of frustration.
“We wish we could speed up the process, but you can’t always do that,” Morrison said.
Morrison said an added frustration is not knowing if she’ll ever really know what happened to Clinkscales, even though she has her own theory.
“I feel like he met his death by the hands of someone else. I don’t know who. I do know that person or persons are probably long gone now,” she said. “I would like to have some closure in knowing what the GBI or whoever has his bones could let us know what they think.”
No one was ever charged in Clinkscales’ disappearance. At one point, police believed a man named Ray Hyde could be a possible suspect, but he died in 2001.
Smith said one difficult part of investigating the remains found in Clinkscales’ car was how little could actually be gathered. He said there were approximately 50 skeletal remains that were recovered from the car, far less than what is needed to do a proper autopsy, much less a DNA analysis.
“I don’t think we’ll ever have an exact cause of death,” he said. “That may be an answer we never get.”
Morrison said that despite the years of not knowing what happened to him, Clinkscales’s parents never gave up hope that he would one day be found. His father, John, died in 2007, while his mother, Louise, died in January 2021, nearly a year before her son’s car was found.
“My only regret is my sister (Louise) didn’t live long enough to know this,” Morrison said.
Morrison said her plan is that if the remains found in Clinkscales’ car are identified as being him, that they will be returned to her so she can have them cremated and placed between his parents’ graves in LaGrange. There are also plans to have a memorial for him someday.