SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - The search for a missing San Augustine man may have ended tragically.
Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham of the San Augustine County Sheriff's Office said the body found in Newton County on Thursday afternoon is believed to be that of Allen Ray McKinney, 53. No positive ID has been made at this time, and Cunningham said they won't know for sure until the results of a DNA test come back.
The body was found near McKinney's green 1999 Ford Explorer in a "very secluded area," Cunningham said. The SACSO chief deputy said preliminary findings indicate that that the person found dead committed suicide by hanging himself.
The SUV was found by the crew of a helicopter that was inspecting a power transmission line.
McKinney has been missing since Feb. 21, when he left his house to meet a friend.
In a previous East Texas News story, Cunningham said, initially, McKinney's family members weren't overly concerned that he hadn't returned home. They thought he had gone off on some type of excursion without telling them.
"I said I was going to give him a whole day so I gave him until 6 o'clock and then I would call him so when I called him I got no answer," said McKinney's mother, Thelma McKinney.
Without any knowledge of whom this friend was, they reached out to law enforcement, and after a week of no contact, a missing person report was filed.
"What is puzzling to us is that there is no plausible explanation to his disappearance," Cunningham said in a previous story. "It doesn't fit the classic profile."
In the first two days after he went missing, McKinney's debit card was used to withdraw money from ATMs in Lufkin, Splendora, and Dickinson. Cunningham said McKinney's cellphone was used during that time as well, but it has since been deactivated.
Cunningham said, by all accounts, McKinney did not have any ongoing arguments with family members, friends, or co-workers. McKinney also doesn't have any physical or mental health issues that might have caused him to wander off, the chief deputy said.
However, McKinney's niece, Tori Brazeal, told East Texas News that it seemed that her uncle had been becoming depressed in the months before he went missing.