On April 15, 2017 the Avery County Sheriff’s Office was notified about a fire involving a cabin in the Harper’s Creek area of Avery County. The fire scene soon escalated into a missing person as the last person known to be at the cabin, George Richardson, could not be located.
Since that time detectives, deputies, SBI agents, Linville/Central Rescue, various Avery County Fire Departments, Avery County Emergency Management and the Department of Correction’s PERT (Prison Emergency Response Team) have put over 1800 man hours into searching the area and the investigation. On June 5th, 2017 during another search, human remains were found in the area.
“Due to the decomposition and predation which has occurred there is no positive identification of the remains and such identification could take months, but because we have no other reports of missing persons in the area and some articles consistent with articles belonging to Richardson were found near the remains, we feel confident our search for George Richardson is over,” Sheriff Frye stated.
The search and investigation has used more than 100 people at various times, involved nearly a half-dozen search warrants for financial, cell and other records, nearly a half-dozen certified dogs and even the forensic scientists from Western Carolina University. Avery County Emergency management provided for the logistics and assisted in the planning of several large and involved searches.
“This has been a county-wide effort which has stretched all available resources to the maximum level but it shows what can be accomplished when groups work together,” Sheriff Frye added. “I wish to extend our heartfelt prayers and condolences for all that the Richardson family is going through at this difficult time.”