Remains found by Jackson County hunters identified as missing Decatur, Ala., man

Remains found by Jackson County hunters identified as missing Decatur, Ala., man

May 9th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Human remains found in February by a hunter in Jackson County, Ala., have been identified as those of a Decatur, Ala., man who went missing in October 2016.

James Robert Elliott Jr., 72, had been reported missing by family on Oct. 11, 2016, Jackson County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rocky Harnen said Tuesday. Elliott, who reportedly suffered from dementia, had left home around 9 a.m. that day.

"Decatur [police] sent those remains off and they notified us Friday that it was Mr. Elliott," Harnen said.

Elliott's 1998 Ford Explorer was found in the Hytop area in November 2016 when sheriff's deputies and members of the Decatur Police Department's SWAT team searched there, The Decatur Daily newspaper reported. The effort continued for two days with no results.

In November 2017, Elliott's wallet and some clothing were found within "walking distance" from the site where his vehicle was found a year before, Jackson County authorities said.

In February, Jackson County investigators said a hunter found what he believed was a human skull and some bones near Hytop Cemetery in the same area previously searched after Elliott's disappearance. Authorities began a recovery operation then.

Jackson County investigator Tony Baker said Tuesday that a jawbone, some long bones, including a femur, a pelvic bone, seven ribs, and some other unidentifiable bones have been recovered from the site, so far.

Harnen said investigators plan to return to the site again to recover all the remains that can be found. He said there was no determination on a cause or manner of death, but investigators don't believe there was any foul play involved.

"We just believe that he got lost [while driving] and he got lost from his vehicle when he got stuck," Harnen said. "That's our best guess."

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.