Latest News

Skeletal remains found near hiking trail in Harrison County

Trail markers show the horse trail in DeSoto National Forest.
Trail markers show the horse trail in DeSoto National Forest. Sun Herald file

Forensic experts are trying to confirm the identity of skeletal remains found along the Tuxachanie Hiking Trail in the DeSoto National Forest near Saucier.

A hunter found the remains on Christmas Day, Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove confirmed Wednesday.

The coroner said he and a team went to the woods and recovered some remains, and went back the next day, and found more remains.

“We’ve got a pretty good idea who it is,” Hargrove said.

The Mississippi Crime Laboratory is assisting in efforts to identify the remains.

It’s unclear if the death was a homicide or by natural causes, or when the identity will be confirmed.

The Tuxachanie Trail stretches about 12 miles through the forest’s rolling hills and wetlands. The main trailhead is about 2 1/2 miles north of Saucier on the east side of U.S. 49.

Cellphone service on the trail is spotty, but a 61-year-old woman was able to call for help when she got lost in the woods after nightfall in December 2016. The woman had minor injuries and was dehydrated when first-responders rescued her that night.

A missing man’s pickup truck was found at the trail a couple of weeks after he went missing; he hasn’t been found since.

Hargrove declined to say if the remains are believed to be those of Gary Lee Hope, last seen leaving his job site in Pass Christian on July 20, 2017. Hope’s pickup truck was found at the parked at the trailhead on Aug. 3, 2017, resulting in a futile search.

Hope was reported missing in Hancock County but his disappearance is under investigation by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.

Robin Fitzgerald covers real-time news, such as crime, public safety and trending stories. In nearly 40 years as a journalist, her highest honors include investigative awards for covering the aftermath of the fatal beating of a Harrison County jail inmate in 2006 and related civil rights violations. She is a Troy University graduate.