The body of Prineville resident Mackenzie Wright was found by a hiker

After receiving the results of a formal autopsy Tuesday, local police released the identity of human remains found earlier this month in Prineville.

Authorities identified the body as 56-year-old Mackenzie Everett Wright, a local man who was reported missing last August, but never found. Wright’s disappearance was reported to police on Aug. 31, although the exact date he went missing was never known for certain.

“The people who talked to us, told us they hadn’t seen him for about two weeks,” said Prineville Police Captain Michael Boyd. “He wasn’t real close with anybody – he kind of kept to himself, so they couldn’t pin it to a specific day.”

Wright’s body was found on March 4, when a hiker discovered his remains on the plateau of a hill near Crook County High School. According to Boyd, the hiker had decided to hike the hill during his lunch break and happened to discover the remains during his trek.

Prior searches for Wright had come up fruitless, and given the remote location and sagebrush and juniper tree-covered terrain, Boyd was amazed that the remains was found by accident.

Authorities determined that Wright had hiked up to the top of the hill and made a small campsite.

“He had a pack with him that was full of all kinds of basic camping and outdoor gear,” Boyd said.

When reports of his disappearance first emerged, it was believed that Wright had left to go panning for gold. While he never did so, police did find a book on gold panning in his pack.

Like any human remains case, police first treated the incident as a crime scene.

“We took all the precautions,” Boyd said, “a lot of photographs, a lot of examinations – searched the entire area.”

The investigation revealed that Wright had taken his own life via a single gunshot. No reason was given or determined for the suicide.

Police initially determined, with near certainty, the identity of the body.

“It was pretty decomposed,” Boyd said, “but it was very intact, so glasses, facial hair – we could tell those kinds of things.”

However, before they could reveal the identity of the remains, authorities had to conduct additional forensic tests to confirm it. The process involved taking the body to Portland where the state medical examiner could perform an official autopsy. Those results were provided to local law enforcement on Tuesday.

Next of kin have been notified, and the investigation has concluded pending formal identification of the remains through forensic testing.

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