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Remains identified as missing Langley man

A human skeleton found Sunday on Navy property near Greenbank was discovered to be that of a missing Langley man this week.

On Wednesday, Island County Coroner Robert Bishop identified the remains as those of Charles Coughlin MacDonald, who was reported missing on Dec. 22, 2000. Bishop said his office made the match by using dental records.

According to a missing person report taken at the time of his disappearance, MacDonald, who was 66 at the time, walked away from his girlfriend's Langley house on a day in late December 2000. He was carrying a backpack. His family reported him missing several days later.

Bishop said MacDonald was said to be emotionally distraught at the time. As he did not drive his car away from his girlfriend's house, he likely used public transit or got a ride to the Lake Hancock woods where his skeleton was found this week, Bishop said.

One-pint cartons of egg nog and milk found in MacDonald's backback during a search for his remains Monday turned up dates that helped Bishop's office pinpoint a date of death. From there, investigators searched their records to determine who had gone missing locally at that time.

Bishop contacted MacDonald's family members with the news Wednesday.

It is unlikely that a cause of death will ever be known. Lacking any soft tissue for a complete autopsy, Bishop said the the cause of death will likely end up as "undetermined." He said he suspects MacDonald died from natural causes, as a result of suicide or from exposure to the elements. But without any traces of trauma on the bones, he said he cannot be conclusive.

A hiker walking through the deep woods on the Lake Hancock property found the bones Feb. 23.

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