The Troup County Sheriff's Office says about 50 skeletal remains have been found in Kyle Clinkscales' car, which was found submerged in a creek on Tuesday.
CNN  — 

Investigators picking through Kyle Clinkscales’ rusted 1974 Ford Pinto have recovered a partial skull bone, dozens of human remains and personal items believed to belong to the college student, who’s been missing for almost 46 years, authorities announced on Thursday.

The Troup County, Georgia, Sheriff’s Office said on Facebook a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has been searching the car since Wednesday with help from its criminal investigations division.

They found “approximately 50 different skeletal remains to include a partial skull bone which will all be sent to the GBI crime lab for further analysis,” the post said.

Clinkscales, a 22-year-old student at Auburn University in Alabama, was last seen on January 27, 1976, when he left work in his hometown of LaGrange, Georgia, which is in Troup County, near the state line, to go back to school.

The drive should have taken less than an hour, but he never arrived.

Kyle Clinkscales was 22 when he disappeared on his way back to college.

On Tuesday, his car was pulled from an Alabama creek after somebody saw its trunk hatchback sticking out of the water and called 911, Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff said Wednesday in a news conference.

He told reporters that the car “is completely” rusted out and had a lot of mud, but they had also found a wallet with Clinkscales’ ID and credit cards.

At Wednesday’s news conference, Woodruff was asked whether Clinkscales may have just run off the road.

“Hopefully we’ll find something. We may never know,” Woodruff said.

Investigators pull a 1974 Ford Pinto from a creek in Alabama.

Clinkscales’ parents never gave up on finding their only son and spent thousands of dollars searching for him and becoming advocates for missing persons, the LaGrange Daily News reported.

John Clinkscales wrote a book about the case and he and his wife, Louise, were invited to the White House in 1985 when President Ronald Reagan called for a new partnership in child safety, the paper reported at the time.

Louise Clinkscales died in January and her husband died in 2007.

“It was always her hope that he would come home. It was always our hope that we would find him for her before she passed away, so just the fact that we have hopefully found him and the car brings me a big sigh of relief,” Woodruff said Wednesday.

CNN’s Gregory Lemos and Amanda Jackson contributed to this story.