Bones found in submerged car matched to Auburn student who vanished in 1976

Published 4:40 pm Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Human bones found inside a submerged car near the Georgia-Alabama state line in 2021 have been matched to a college student who had been missing for 47 years, according to a Georgia sheriff.

Kyle Clinkscales, 22, of LaGrange, vanished in January 1976 after leaving the Georgia club where he worked as a bartender to return to school at Auburn University in neighboring Alabama.

Investigators got a break in the cold case in December 2021, when someone spotted a car in a murky Alabama creek. The 1974 Ford Pinto pulled from the water belonged to Clinkscales, and some of his belongings were still inside. So were about 50 bones, including part of a skull.

The office of Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff announced in a statement Sunday that forensic tests by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI have concluded that the bones found inside the car more than a year ago are Clinkscales’ remains.

“At this time an official report has not been completed or released by the GBI as it relates to a manner of death,” according to the sheriff’s statement.

GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles confirmed Wednesday that investigators have not determined how Clinkscales died or whether foul play was involved.

In 2006, Jimmy Earl Jones pleaded guilty to making false statements to authorities about Clinkscales’ death and was sentenced to four years in prison. Jones had told investigators that Clinkscales was fatally shot by someone else, but he gave conflicting accounts that prosecutors determined were useless to uncovering the truth.

Pete Skandalakis, the former district attorney who prosecuted Jones, said after Clinkscales’ car was found that the “most plausible explanation” for his death was that he accidentally ran off the road.