GREAT VALLEY, N.Y. (WIVB) - Human remains found in Allegany State Park are that of a missing 92-year-old pastor who went missing over a year ago, baffling police and family members.
Police identified the remains as Thomas Hamilton's on Thursday. Hamilton vanished after he and his daughter went hiking in November of 2010. The mystery deepened and the search expanded when there was no sign of him.
His remains were found on Tuesday by an alert hiker. State Police Capt. Steven Nigrelli says experts were able to match Hamilton's dental records to the skull that was uncovered.
"It's tough for the family to go through this, as you can well imagine. This has been their fear for a year and a half," said Capt. Nigrelli.
Hamilton became lost in the woods with his daughter, and she left to go find help when he became too weak to follow. When help came, the priest was no where to be found. That prompted a search, spanning eight days.
"All types of search techniques were used. Aviation was a major component," Capt. Nigrelli said.
Despite searching more than 20-percent of the park - 6,000 acres - crews were unsuccessful in finding Hamilton. State Park Ranger Capt. Daniel Richter says it's likely the remains were buried beneath the brush.
"We have two falls that have basically occurred from the time when Mr. Hamilton went missing to the time his remains were discovered," he explained.
The 92-year-old's remains were found outside the area that police were searching and two miles away from the entrance to the trail. Hamilton's walking stick, watch and clothing were also found with his remains. His family has reportedly identified these items.
No charges were ever filed in 2010 and to this day, no one is facing charges in connection to Hamilton's death. Police are calling this a tragic accident.
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