SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Officials with the San Augustine County Sheriff's Office received verbal confirmation from the Texas Rangers regarding the identity of the Nacogdoches County man whose skeletal remains were found in a densely wooded area in October 2012 earlier this year.
Chief Gary Cunningham of the San Augustine Sheriff's Office said that, according to the Texas Rangers, the remains are those of a Nacogdoches County man named Michael Wheeler.
According to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System Web site located at www.findthemissing,org, the man's full name was Michael Edwin Wheeler. The Web site stated that Wheeler was 34 when he was last seen on June 8, 2003.
The entry for Wheeler states," Michael was last seen at approximately 4:00 a.m. at his residence in the vicinity of County Rd. 780 in Douglass, TX. He was very distraught when he left his residence. The vehicle Wheeler was driving was found in a wooded area in San Augustine County without its keys."
"This is the same person that we've suspected all along, based on the physical evidence we found at the scene," Cunningham said.
Cunningham said the cause of Wheeler's death is unknown at this time and is still under investigation. He said there were no obvious signs of any trauma to the skeletal remains that were located.
A logging crew discovered the remains in a densely wooded area off County Road 336 in San Augustine on Oct. 8, 2012. After investigators arrived on the scene, they sent photos of the skeletal remains to a forensic anthropologist, who confirmed that the bones were that of a human male.
In a previous interview, Cunningham said the remnants of clothing found near the man's remains were in such a state of deterioration that it indicated the body had been there for years. In addition, family members of the missing Nacogdoches County man confirmed that some of the evidence found at the scene belonged to him.
The remains were then boxed and shipped to a forensic facility in North Texas in hopes of determining the cause of death and the person's identity. Cunningham said Wheeler's vehicle was located in the same part of San Augustine County shortly after he went missing. It was removed from the area by some of Wheeler's family members, he said.