Details of Disappearance Clinkscales was last seen at the Moose Club in LaGrange, Georgia, at 11:00 p.m. on January 27, 1976. He left the club, where he tended bar two nights a week, intending to go 35 miles away to Auburn University, where he was a junior. He never arrived there and has never been heard from again. His vehicle, a white two-door 1974 Ford Pinto Runabout hatchback with the Georgia license plate number CEF-717 and the VIN number 4T11Y207954, has never been recovered. He was reported missing by his parents on February 3, a week later.
It is uncharacteristic of Clinkscales to leave without warning; he was close to his parents and called him regularly or left notes telling of his whereabouts. His father initially believed he left of his own accord.
Clinkscales had not been a good student at college. He initially enrolled at Auburn University after graduating high school, but made poor grades there and transferred to LaGrange University, where he continued to perform badly before dropping out of college altogether. He later re-enrolled at Auburn and changed his major from education to business administration, losing several credits in the process. He promised do better academically, but his first term's grades were not up to his expectations. His father theorized Clinkscales left and tried to start life anew under a different identity as a result of his poor college performance.
In 1987, a man in Troup County, Georgia found Clinkscales's Exxon credit card in the Flat Shoal Creek area. Investigators searched the vicinity where the card was found but turned up no other evidence. In 2005, a man called Clinkscales's parents and told them that in 1976, when he was seven years old, he had witnessed the disposal of Clinkscales's body. The body, the informant said, had been covered with concrete, stuffed in a barrel, and dumped in a pond on private property.
Searches of the pond turned up no sign of the barrel or any remains, but the tipster's information led to the arrest of Jimmy Earl Jones and, later, Jeanne Pawlak Johnson. Jones was charged with concealing a death, hindering the apprehension of a criminal and two counts of making false statements. Johnson was charged with concealing a death, making false statements, and obstructing justice. Neither has been charged with Clinkscales's murder; investigators believe the actual killer was a man named Ray Hyde.
Hyde died in 2001. He had owned a salvage yard and police dug it up twice looking for Clinkscales's missing Pinto, but never found it. Investigators do not know why Clinkscales was killed, but they believe he may have had knowledge about Hyde's criminal activities, which involved car theft.
Johnson was at Hyde's home the night Clinkscales vanished, though she later denied this. Authorities believe Jones did not participate in the murder but did help dispose of the body. They think Hyde moved the remains from the pond to an unknown location sometime afterwards.
Clinkscales's body has never been found. His father wrote a book about his disappearance and other missing persons cases, entitled Kyle's Story: Friday Never Came. Clinkscales's father died in 2007 and his mother in 2021; in both their obituaries, their son was listed as having predeceased them. Foul play is suspected in his disappearance due to the circumstances involved.
- Troup County Sheriff's Department
Updated 12 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated May 19, 2021; distinguishing characteristics and details of disappearance updated.