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Remains found in Jackson County believed to be those of missing Decatur man

Last Friday night, officials say hunters stumbled upon something unexpectedly.

Posted: Feb. 12, 2018 5:30 PM
Updated: Feb. 12, 2018 6:45 PM

An almost 18-month-old Missing Persons case may be closed soon after human remains were found in a wooded area in Jackson county Friday night.

According to officials, the remains were found off of County Road 13 and are believed to be those of a Decatur man who went missing back in October of 2016.

“Wandered off, somehow or another, off the main road and then was driving down a four-wheeler road is actually what it was," said Jackson County Sheriff Chuck Phillips. "He got his vehicle stuck between some trees and couldn’t go any further."

That’s what Phillips says happened to missing Decatur man, James Elliott.

According to officials, the 72-year-old had been missing for about four weeks before they even knew he was in Jackson County.

They say they were notified after his truck was found wedged between two trees on private property.

His pants and ID were found almost a year later, not far from where his truck was spotted.

But, still, no sign of Elliott.

However, last Friday night, officials say hunters stumbled upon something unexpectedly.

“Several remains, including a skull, of what we believe is going to be James Elliott from Decatur," Phillips said.

“I mean, that’s something that doesn’t happen around here everyday," said Shavonnah McLain.

McLain lives near the wooded area where the remains were found and says she can’t imagine what the family has been going through for almost a year and a half.

“I just hate that for the family," McLain said. "Knowing that he was out there like that."

But Phillips says he feels confident these hunters just helped close a missing persons case.

“It’s too close to the vicinity where we were at," Phillips said. "We have nobody else missing in that area except him.”

Phillips says he’s thankful for those hunters, whose actions may have provided some peace of mind for Elliot's family.

“We didn’t feel like anybody would ever find him, but we got really lucky," Phillips said. "And we appreciate them contacting us and taking us back down there.”

Right now, Phillips says the remains have been sent to a forensics lab for positive identification.

He says their next step will be another search for the rest of the remains.

“Hopefully, we can recover several more of the remains and give it to the family," Phillips said.

And McLain says that’s probably exactly what the family needs.

“I’m sure it’s probably just closure, I mean, it’s been so long that he’s been gone. I’m sure it’s just nice to have the closure," McLain said.

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