Human remains found in the North Carolina woods have been identified as a man who vanished in 2011, officials said.
Michael Dwayne Wilkerson was 34 years old when he was last seen in the Asheboro area. The same day that he disappeared, a totaled pickup truck was discovered with no one inside, according to the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office.
Wilkerson’s location was a mystery for more than a decade until someone stumbled upon human remains in March. While DNA helped to confirm the remains belonged to the missing man, his cause of death was still unknown as of Tuesday, June 28, deputies said in a news release.
Officials said Wilkerson’s family last saw him on Sept. 15, 2011. He was spotted in the area of New Hope Church Road, near Asheboro and roughly 85 miles southwest of Raleigh.
That same morning, the wrecked pickup was found along the same road. Officials in their news release didn’t say whether the truck belonged to Wilkerson but said his cellphone was inside.
“The last call made on Michael’s phone had been made about 2:30 a.m.,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “A highway patrol trooper arrived on the scene at approximately 5:15 a.m. in response to a passerby’s report of the wreck.”
Wilkerson was reported missing days later on Sept. 24, 2011.
In the decade that followed, officials treated the case “as a possible death investigation,” and Crimestoppers offered a $1,000 reward for tips, The Courier-Tribune reported in 2021.
A year later, officials said his remains were found in woods along New Hope Church Road. The cold case investigation was ongoing as of June 28.