Horry County police confirmed an identification found near a man’s remains in woods near Aynor belonged to a man reported missing more than a year ago.
Acting on a tip, Horry County officers began searching the woods near Horse Pen Bay Road Wednesday morning for Randy Davis, who was reported missing in January 2016. While combing the area, police discovered human remains around 2:30 p.m., according to Krystal Dotson, spokeswoman for the Horry County Police Department.
“In close proximity (to the body) was an identification card belonging to missing person Randy Davis,” Dotson said. “While the preliminary investigation leads us to the conclusion that the remains belong to Mr. Davis, forensic analysis is necessary to confirm the identity. We will not provide such confirmation until these results are received.”
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Darris Fowler, deputy coroner on the scene, said that the remains are that of a male and that they have been sent to Charleston for further investigation.
The man’s identity should be released by Thursday evening, according to Fowler.
Natasha Ryce was riding her horse, Honey, Wednesday afternoon, heading to the trail they often take through the woods off of Horse Pen Bay Road when they saw police at the scene.
Ryce lives about a quarter of a mile away and said she has always kept an eye out for Davis ever since his disappearance from the quiet community.
Members of the community rallied together handing out fliers, showing support in vigils and praying for answers ever since Davis went missing on Jan. 21, 2016. He was 26 years old when he was last seen at a home on Marshland Road, about a mile away from the wooded area officers were searching Wednesday.
Loretta Davis, mother of Randy Davis, said she always had a feeling her son was nearby in the area where officers searched. Family members often searched and put up signs in the community where he was last seen.
“We’re still praying,” Davis said. “It’s been a year and four months that they have been searching and they just found him today.”
She said they were still waiting for further confirmation on the victim’s identity. But the phone call she received Wednesday about a body being found there, was one no parent wants to get, she said.
“I’m just so hurt and broke,” Davis added. If the remains turn out to be those of her son, she said, it’ll be “heartbreaking, but at least we’ve got closure that we didn’t have before. ... Now, we’ve just got to find out what happened to him.”
Nick Gause, who has a farm along Horse Pen Bay Road, says he had a sign that called attention to Davis' missing person's case in his yard for several months.
Davis' family would often come to adorn the sign with balloons and flowers.
The sign was moved to a yard further down the road - closer to the search site - a few weeks ago, Gause said.
"I hope they found him to put the family to rest," he said on Wednesday after learning of the day's discovery.
Dotson confirmed officers with Horry County Police Department’s criminal investigations division were continuing to search for other evidence in the woods after the body was found Wednesday afternoon.
“We will be taking everything that we located in our search, investigating and hopefully giving the family a piece of rest in ... an update about what we found,” Dotson said.
The CUE Center for Missing Persons were assisting in the search Wednesday.
“The HCPD takes every missing person report seriously and investigates all leads that will aid in providing justice and closure to the victim’s families,” Dotson said. “Immense appreciation goes out to the local agencies as well as CUE for their continued support in this search.”