CLINTON — Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf said authorities knew “almost immediately” to whom skeletal remains belonged when they were discovered near Eagle Point Park in April.
The remains had photo identification, and later analysis comparing age and height — along with next-of-kin notification — provided “strong circumstantial evidence” that the deceased was William Frank Hindley, 61, of Clinton.
Forensic results have yet to reveal anything conclusive, though, which is why Hindley was only identified on a “circumstantial basis.” His remains were released to the family on Wednesday.
Wolf said it was important for the public to know that authorities had a strong confirmation of who the man was.
“Unfortunately those lab results can take some time,” said Wolf, adding it could be months or years before science confirms who the remains belong to. “It’s highly likely it’s this person due to strong circumstantial evidence... Lack of knowledge fuels speculation that’s unnecessary, I think.”
However, “We don’t have any test results confirming it’s William Hindley yet,” Wolf said.
Since no foul play or trauma were suspected, Wolf said the case has not received as strong of a “push” as other deaths where foul play was suspected.
“That’s going to be pushed behind cases where there is evidence of that,” Wolf said.
Based on the circumstances — which also include family information that Hindley frequented the area where his believed remains were found — authorities were able to release the remains as well as confirm circumstantially his identity.
The case, though, is not finished until forensics return a scientific confirmation.
“It’s like anything else,” Wolf said. “Strong circumstantial evidence (is) putting things together... Because we have a death we need to be certain-certain.”
The remains were discovered on April 27 by a person who was mushroom hunting. In the seven weeks since discovery, Wolf said the delays came from lack of test results as agencies compiled more evidence to piece together the case.
Official cause and nature of death are still unknown.