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Remains in Parleys Canyon may solve 30-year mystery

SHARE Remains in Parleys Canyon may solve 30-year mystery

When 28-year-old Wayne Turpin disappeared on June 28, 1968, in Parleys Canyon, his brother, Larry, went looking for him.

In fact, the Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy looked for him for more than a year."I borrowed a horse and went up and down that canyon," said Larry Turpin, who was assigned to the canyons at the time and is still a deputy.

At the time, Wayne Turpin's car, keys, wallet and watch were found in the area, but he was never located.

"They said at the time that 20,000 people a year just up and walk away from their lives and (Wayne) might be one of them," Larry Turpin said. "That would have been out of character for my brother. It was a weird circumstance."

That's why Larry kept looking.

On Monday, county detectives unearthed the skeletal remains of a man they believe is Wayne Turpin. The bones were found Sunday night by a deer hunter combing the brush in the area above Clear Creek, Detective Mark Chidester said.

The body was found about 300 yards east of the nearest road in the canyon. It did not appear to be in any kind of grave but was covered by mulch and debris. It took detectives about four hours to uncover and remove the remains.

The Utah Medical Examiner's Office, along with anthropology experts from the University of Utah, will conduct an investigation. It should be several days before a positive identification is made, Chidester said.

After 30 years, the discovery is something of a shock to the Turpin family, Larry Turpin said.

"We didn't really know what had happened to him, so it's been 30 years of worry," he said. "And every Christmas you would think he was going to walk through the door. And every Thanksgiving. When my father died, I thought (Wayne) might come to the funeral."

And each hunting season the thought has crossed Turpin's mind that his brother might be found.

"You always expect it," he said.

But it didn't happen - until now.

Detectives say the body was covered with 30 years of debris, which made the body hard to find.

"It's so thick in there. I could have been 5 feet from him and never found him," Larry Turpin said. "Of course, we don't know if it's him yet."

If indeed the remains are those of Wayne Turpin, the discovery will go a long way in answering 30 years of questions for his family.

Turpin was the eldest of nine children. Martha Turpin, his mother, reacted to the news with tears.

"She said she'd thought about him every night and she didn't want to die not knowing what happen to him," Larry Turpin said. "She said it was like 300 pounds being lifted from her shoulders."