PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The nearly year-old, partial resolution of a nearly 2-year-old missing-person mystery was sadly revealed Tuesday as Crook County sheriff's deputies said the remains of a man who vanished in March 2012 were found last spring in a rural area – though the cause of death is still being withheld and investigated.
The discovery of the remains of Robert Alan Bucknell, who was 55 at the time of his March 2012 disappearance, was not announced at the time due to the ongoing investigation, said Undersheriff John Gautney. He said that information is now being released "after further consultation with the family."
Bucknell disappeared around March 28, 2012. His 1989 tan Jeep Cherokee was found on private property near his home, off Juniper Canyon Road, about 12 miles southeast of Prineville, with no sign of the owner.
Sheriff's Search and Rescue crews conducted several ground searches, including use of search dogs, as well as aerial searches of the area where it was suspected Bucknell might have been, to no avail.
Bucknell's family had offered a reward that eventually grew to $10,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible for his disappearance.
Last April 10, Gautney said, the sheriff's office received reports that possible human remains had been found in a rural area within five miles of Bucknell's home. After sheriff's investigators confirmed they were human remains, the Oregon State Police Crime Lab was called in to process the scene, he said.
"It was suspected the remains were that of Robert Bucknell, due to the location and the time frame involved," Gautney said in a news release Tuesday. Eventually, the state medical examiner tested the remains for DNA and confirmed they indeed were those of Bucknell.
The cause of death is not being released due to the ongoing investigation, the undersheriff said, adding that "investigators have been in contact with family members on a regular basis as to the status of the case."
Sheriff's deputies, assisted by OSP criminal investigators, continue to look into what may have caused Bucknell's death, Gautney said, adding that "looking into whether it was foul play is always part of an active investigation."
Anyone with information pertinent to the case was asked to immediately contact the sheriff's office at (541) 447-6398.
You can also call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line at 1-877-876-TIPS, or use the form on KTVZ.COM's Crime Stoppers page. You can remain anonymous, and you could be eligible for a cash reward.