A couple walking on a nature trail stumbled upon human remains in Whitfield County. Authorities have identified those remains.
The Whitfield County Sheriff's Office is trying to figure out how the remains got there. They say they're possibly linked to a missing persons case out of Floyd County.
Investigators strongly believe the remains belong to 59-year-old Wayne Fingerle. Family members reported him missing in November to the Rome Police Department. They described him as an avid hiker.
Now authorities are sending the man's dental records to the GBI to confirm his identity.
"We just found some human remains off Gordon Springs Road," a hiker told a 9-1-1 dispatcher on Sunday.
One of the hikers called 9-1-1 to report what they saw near the Walker/Whitfield County line.
"It's been out here a long time," the hiker said in a 9-1-1 call.
Investigators believe the bones were in the woods for a couple of months. While the sheriff hasn't spoken with the couple directly, he can only imagine what they went through.
"You know as it would be for anybody. While you're out on a nature trail walk, enjoying the hiking paths and stuff, and come up on what appears to be skeletal remains, so I think anybody would take a double look at it before they contacted authorities," Sheriff Scott Chitwood of the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office said.
The sheriff said his department is working closely with authorities in Floyd County who recently discovered an abandoned pick up truck in nearby Walker County.
That truck, belonging to 59-year-old Wayne Fingerle, was found 3.5 miles from the remains. Deputies believe the GBI crime lab will match the remains to Fingerle.
"Until we have positive identification, the question still remains," Sheriff Chitwood said.
Authorities do not suspect foul play in this case.
Just three weeks ago, a teen found a burned body in a wooded area about 20 miles from where this most recent discovery was made.
Whitfield County is investigating that case as well, but the sheriff said there is no reason to believe the two cases are connected.