NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. - A body believed to be that of Anthony "Tony" Pittman, the New Cumberland teen who has been missing since May 29, was discovered by authorities on Monday.
According to a press release issued Tuesday afternoon by the Hancock County Sheriff's Department, the body was located in a small ravine in a wooded area roughly 300 yards from the family's property.
A K-9 search and rescue team from Tyler County had been brought in to assist sheriff's deputies, local volunteer firefighters and personnel from the Hancock County Office of Emergency Management in a renewed search of the area.
Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher said his department had received numerous leads regarding Pittman's whereabouts during the past four weeks, including claims from witnesses of having recently spoken to Pittman and sightings of the young man in North Carolina. The leads prompted ground and aerial searches, both locally and in North Carolina, which turned up nothing.
"We followed up on every lead, tip and even rumors that came through," Fletcher said via phone on Tuesday. "We shook every tree that we could."
Having exhausted those leads, the sheriff says investigators decided to return to where the search began, in the wooded area surrounding the Pittman's home, utilizing a search and rescue team with K-9s specially trained in scent tracking and locating human remains.
In the media release, Fletcher stated that Pittman's family has been notified of the possibility that the recovered body is that of the 16-year-old Oak Glen High School student, but emphasized that no ruling will be made until after an autopsy is conducted.
"Although evidence recovered in the immediate area suggests the body is that of Pittman, according to Fletcher, detectives traveled to Charleston to gain additional information into the cause of death and positive identification from the West Virginia Medical Examiner's Office," the release read.