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Clinkscales was last seen at the Moose Club in LaGrange, Georgia, at 11:00 p.m. on January 27, 1976. He left the club, where he tended bar two nights a week, intending to go 35 miles away to Auburn University, where he was a junior. He never arrived there and has never been heard from again. Clinkscales's vehicle, a white two-door 1974 Pinto Runabout with the Georgia license plate number CEF-717 and the VIN number 4T11Y207954, has never been recovered. He was reported missing by his parents on February 3, a week later.
In 1987, a man in Troup County, Georgia found Clinkscales's Exxon credit card in the Flat Shoal Creek area. Investigators searched the vicinity where the card was found but turned up no other evidence. In 2005, a man called Clinkscales's parents and told them that in 1976, when he was seven years old, he had witnessed the disposal of Clinkscales's body. The body, the informant said, had been covered with concrete, stuffed in a barrel, and dumped in a pond on private property. Seaches of the pond turned up no sign of the barrel or any remains, but the tipster's information led to the arrest of Jimmy Earl Jones and, later, Jeanne Pawlak Johnson. Jones has been charged with concealing a death, hindering the apprehension of a criminal and two counts of making false statements. Johnson was charged with concealing a death, making false statements, and obstructing justice. Neither has been charged with Clinkscales's murder; investigators believe the actual killer was a man named Ray Hyde.
Hyde died in 2001. He had owned a salvage yard and police dug it up twice looking for Clinkscales's missing Pinto, but never found it. Investigators do not know why Clinkscales was killed, but they believe he may have had knowledge about Hyde's criminal activities, which involved car theft. Johnson was at Hyde's home the night Clinkscales vanished, though she later denied this. Authorities believe Jones did not participate in the murder but did help dispose of the body. They think Hyde moved the remains from the pond to an unknown location sometime afterwards.
Clinkscales's body has never been found. His father wrote a book about his disappearance and other missing persons cases, entitled Kyle's Story: Friday Never Came. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
Troup County Sheriff's Department
by John Dixon Clinkscales