EMPIRE, Ala. (WIAT) — Law enforcement in Walker County have tentatively identified the body of a man that was found in the woods over the weekend by a search party. Based on the personal ID found inside of the man’s clothing, Sheriff Jim Underwood tells CBS 42 it appears to be Randy Hicks.
Hicks had been missing from the Empire area since July 4th. On July 23rd, family and friends had organized the search party in a wooded area near where Hicks was last seen. According to neighbors, they found the body about 30 minutes after the search started.
Investigators are currently classifying it as a death investigation. According to friends, Hicks went into the woods off Coon Creek Road with two other people on July 4th, but they became separated.
Cherry Hardin can see the police tape from her front porch. She said she didn’t know Hicks well–but that he had been at her house not long before his disappearance. Hardin assumed Hicks had come out of the woods on his own. “I didn’t hear anything else about it,” she said. “I never thought anything else about it after that–until I went to see a friend of mine and he asked me.”
Hicks’ family has started a GoFundMe account to pay for his burial expenses. You can find a link here.
“I really feel for them,” said Hardin. “I couldn’t imagine my brother, my kids, or anybody being gone…and I didn’t even know the boy [Hicks] that well.”
Sheriff Underwood told CBS 42 investigators are still waiting on the results of some DNA testing, in addition to the cause of death. The remains are still being examined.