Human remains found at Yucca Canyon Trail in Carlsbad Caverns National Park

Human skeletal remains were found at Carlsbad Caverns National Park Thursday afternoon on a backcountry trail.

The Eddy County Sheriff's Office announced the investigation was ongoing the morning of Friday, April 12, and reported at about 6 p.m. that night that the remains were found along the Yucca Canyon Trail in a remote area of the park.

Lt. Kane Wyatt said there was no evidence yet to connect the remains with any active missing persons investigations in the area. He said the remains were sent to the Office of the Medical Investigator to potentially determine the identity of the deceased and the cause of death. Police were awaiting those results, Wyatt said.

"We have no idea at this time," Wyatt said when asked about the identity of the remains. "It's just human skeletal remains. We do not believe this is related to any currently known missing persons."

The Yucca Canyon trailhead was closed during the investigation, according to a news release from the Eddy County Sheriff's Office. The trail was likely to reopen April 13, according a social media post from the National Park Service.

Wyatt said the case was being treated initially as a criminal investigation. He said police were asking anyone with information to contact the Eddy County Sheriff's Office's Investigations Division.

"Anytime that there's human remains that are found we conduct that as a criminal investigation unless it is determined to be otherwise," Wyatt said. "We hope the public will come forward with information that will help. We definitely rely on the public to help us with information."

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William Lee Kammerer was reported missing in November. Could the remains be his?

Wyatt did say the Eddy County Sheriff's Office was actively investigating the whereabouts of William Lee Kammerer, 23, who was reported missing Nov. 30, 2023. He said there was no evidence as of Friday to tie the remains found at Yucca Canyon to Kammerer.

Kammerer was described 6 feet tall, weighing about 205 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. He has a tattoo of two flowers on his left hand, a tribal tattoo on left arm and a forest tattoo on his right arm.

A $5,000 reward for information to help locate Kammerer was offered by Eddy County Crimestoppers.

"I know there is an active missing persons case that we are investigating. That's always on our minds," Wyatt said. "We're always looking for him, but we don't have any evidence that this is connected to that case."

Yucca Canyon is a 7.7 mile backcountry trail rated difficult, according to the National Park Service. It begins from the road to Slaughter Canyon, climbing quickly up a side canyon to an escarpment lookout, then across a plateau before a sheer drop and view of the Big Canyon. The trail was estimated to have entail an elevation change of 1,520 feet, and take about 8.5 hours one way.

Adrian Hedden can be reached at 575-628-5516, or @AdrianHedden on the social media platform X.

This article originally appeared on Carlsbad Current-Argus: Human skeletal remains found on backcountry trail at Carlsbad Caverns