David Dewayne Abbott's remains were found in Tennessee seven years after he was reported missing
Skeletal remains that were discovered in McMinn County, Tennessee earlier this month, have been confirmed to belong to David Dewayne Abbott, a Georgia man who was reported missing on June 23, 2016.
Abbott’s remains were found seven years later in a wooded area off Highway 30 west of Athens, Tennessee in McMinn County on Oct. 19, reports The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said during a Wednesday press conference that Fort Oglethorpe Police Department retired detective Steve Blevins, who was the assigned detective following Abbott’s initial disappearance, continued to investigate the case, reports The Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The body was located in Athens, less than a mile from where Abbott left his car. He was 43 when he disappeared, and his family later told police that he had schizophrenia and other health issues, reports Local 3 News.
According to Guy, investigators found no sign of foul play. He explained that Abbott seemed to have "walked off into the wooded area and passed away shortly after leaving his truck on County Road 126,” per WDEF.
The remains were found by hunters in the woods on Oct. 19 and then sent for a forensic autopsy to the Knox County Regional Forensics Center. The forensics center was not available to comment when reached by PEOPLE.
"On Monday, we were contacted by retired Fort Oglethorpe Detective Steve Blevins about the possibility of the person being related to a case Detective Blevins had worked in 2016," Guy said, per The Chattanooga Times Free Press. "Detective Blevins contacted the forensics center about his cold case, and they were able to confirm the identification as David Abbott, of Fort Oglethorpe."
"He stayed on top of this, even in his retirement,” Guy said of Blevins, per Local 3 News. “Sometimes it's just finding the truth out and being able to bring some resolutions to the family."
“We are fortunate to have located Mr. Abbott, confirm his identity, and bring some peace to his family,'” said Guy, reports ABC News Channel 9 ABC.
"We feel like he was ripped right out of our lives," Abbott’s fiancé Regina Snyder told News Channel 9. "Weeks turned into months turned into years with no answers.”
"How? Why? I mean, I don't understand how locals they're didn't see or smell anything that close to a business, that close to a road," Snyder said. "I feel like it's a blessing that we found him."
"He didn't get to see me be a mom. He didn't get to meet my little girl," Abbott's stepdaughter Mikkayla told News Channel 9,
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Blevins told News Channel 9 that the case was open for too long. “We should have got to him," he said. "I never had a missing person case that went on this long.”
PEOPLE did not immediately hear back for comment from McMinn County Sheriff's Office on Friday.
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