Crook County resident Robert Bucknell went missing in March 2012

After initiating a search for missing Crook County resident Robert Bucknell nearly two years ago, local law enforcement has finally announced discovery of his remains.

The Crook County Sheriff’s Office began conducting an investigation in March 2012 when Bucknell, a 55-year-old male, was reported missing.

His vehicle, a 1989 tan Jeep Cherokee, was found on private property near his residence, but there was no sign of the owner. Crook County Search and Rescue personnel subsequently conducted several ground and air searches in the area, and utilized search dogs as well, but Bucknell was never located.

In April 2013, more than a year after Bucknell first went missing, the sheriff’s office received reports of possible human remains in a rural area about five miles away from Bucknell’s home. Authorities did not provide the exact location of the remains.

Sheriff’s office investigators responded and later confirmed they were human remains. The Oregon State Police Crime Lab was then called to assist in processing the scene.

It was suspected the remains were those of Bucknell, due to the location and timeframe involved. However, the identity was not confirmed until after the Oregon State Medical Examiner tested the remains for DNA.

Several factors contributed to the nine-month gap between when the remains were discovered and when the information was made public. First, the sheriff’s office had to conduct an exhaustive investigation.

“You always investigate these as a possible homicide, because you don’t know what the cause of death was,” said Crook County Undersheriff John Gautney. “You have to be very careful. You don’t know if you have got a missing person who died of natural causes or a person who was helped to go missing by someone else.”

In addition, it can take a long time to receive crime lab results. Gautney said the sheriff’s office requested results as quickly as possible, but still had to wait several weeks for them to come back.

Further widening the time gap, when the identity of the remains was first confirmed, the sheriff’s office chose not to disclose the information. However, after recent consultation with Bucknell’s family, they decided to make the discovery public.

“We wanted to pursue their wishes as well, plus we didn’t want to jeopardize the case down the road,” Gautney explained.

The sheriff’s office, with assistance from the Oregon State Police Criminal Investigations Unit, is continuing the investigation into what may have caused Robert Bucknell’s death.

Anyone with information pertinent to this case is asked to contact the sheriff’s office immediately.

The Crook County Sheriff’s Office can be reached at 541-447-6398.

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