North Carolina

How a mystery caller helped NC police’s search for remains of man missing for 24 years

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A decades-long cold case has come to an end, thanks to a spark from a mystery caller, North Carolina cops say.

Human remains were found buried Tuesday in the woods of Boiling Spring Lakes, a city about 25 miles southwest of Wilmington, the State Bureau of Investigation says.

And officials think the remains may belong to a man who disappeared 24 years ago, according to a Thursday news release.

Timothy Jason Smart was 25 years old when he was last seen in 1995, The News & Observer previously reported.

The disappearance was unsolved for years and then a TV report highlighted the case in May 2018, state investigators say.

Then, an anonymous caller gave cops a tip that pushed their investigation forward, the news release says.

Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department in July arrested Bryan O’Daniels, 45, in connection with the case, according to officials.

He was in the Brunswick County jail on a murder charge as of Thursday, records show.

“Everyone whose worked on this case, past and present, is thankful to be able to bring closure to Tim’s family and friends after all these years,” Kellie Hodges, assistant special agent in charge, said in the news release.

The remains will be taken to a medical examiner for identification and to determine the cause of death.

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