Skeleton found in area that had been searched


THE human skeletal remains uncovered at Evans Head were found in an area that was searched after James Errol Lane went missing.

Police yesterday confirmed they were investigating the possibility the remains were those of the 80-year-old Alzheimer's sufferer who went missing last June.

A search was launched for Mr Lane when he failed to return from a morning walk on June 12.

Up to 50 people combed scrubland, beach and waterways surrounding the town over three days.

The human remains found on Thursday on Airforce Beach, 700 metres north of Terrace Street, were sent to Sydney yesterday for forensic testing.

Acting Richmond Local Area police commander Superintendent Tony Crandell said searches for Mr Lane definitely covered the area where the remains were found.

"We used a grid search where we isolated individual areas and then covered each area thoroughly, section by section," Supt. Crandell said.

"The remains were found partially obscured from view. Even so, the search we did would have uncovered Mr Lane if he had been there at the time."

Mr Lane was reported missing at 3.30pm and police combined with Woodburn State Emergency Service personnel to conduct preliminary searches of Airforce Beach and the township before bad light forced them to stop at 8.30pm.

The search resumed at 7am with Royal Australian Air Force and Evans River personnel and a Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter joining the effort.

Supt. Crandell said the remains were found in an area that was covered by extensive foot searches of bushland and 4WD tracks and sand dunes, while SES vehicles patroled the beach.

The circumstances surrounding the person's death are not being treated as suspicious, and police are waiting for the results of forensic testing and formal identi- fication procedures.

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