ST. LOUIS (AP) – An autopsy was scheduled Monday to confirm whether remains found in a remote area of Missouri’s Mark Twain National Forest are those of a Michigan man missing since winter.
Search dogs on Sunday found decomposed remains that authorities believe are those of Fred Byrne, 49, of Big Rapids, Mich. Carter County, Mo., Sheriff Richard Stephens said the remains were badly decomposed and it wasn’t clear how long identification would take.
Byrne dropped off his son at Hope College in Holland, Mich., on Feb. 12, then visited his mother in Holland. He had not been seen since.
His Chevrolet Malibu was found two days later 560 miles away, along a service road in the south-central Missouri forest, near the town of Van Buren. Stephens said the remains were discovered by search dogs about a quarter-mile from the car.
Stephens had asked a canine rescue team to visit the area where the car was found. He said the dogs were on-site for about three hours when the remains were found shortly after noon Sunday.
“We hadn’t given up on that case,” Stephens said.
Earlier searches, including an aerial search of the forest, had found nothing.
Byrne is an attorney and a prominent member of the Big Rapids community, serving on the city’s parks board. His wife, Diana, is president of the Big Rapids school board.
In a posting Monday on the Facebook page dedicated to finding Byrne, Diana Byrne thanked police “and all other agencies, searchers, family, friends and many others who have reached out in support.” The posting said funeral arrangements were pending.