The family of a Canadian man last seen in Joshua Tree National Park say that officials are in contact with them after remains were found near the area where he was last seen a year-and-a-half ago.
On Friday, park law enforcement rangers confirmed they found skeletal human remains in the 49 Palms Oasis area of Joshua Tree National Park. The prior day, a cooperating agency notified the park that they may have found evidence of human remains while analyzing photographs of the area taken last summer.
The remains were found in a remote, rocky, steep location away from any trails, according to a news release from park officials. The identity of the person and cause of death have yet to be determined, but officials say it doesn't appear that foul play was involved.
The 49 Palms Oasis trail is the same area authorities where 51-year-old Paul Miller was last seen heading towards before disappearing.
Miller, of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, was last seen on July 13, 2018. Miller's wife, Stephanie, reported him missing when he didn't return to their hotel after going out for a hike on the trail. Park officials found Miller's rental car in the parking lot of the 49 Palms Oasis hiking trailhead.
Search and rescue teams spent more than 6,000 hours searching for Miller but were unable to find any trace of the father of two.
According to the Find Paul Miller Facebook Page, officials are in contact with Miller's family but a confirmation of identity could take days or weeks.
Dawne Robinson, Miller's sister, told CTV News in Canada that his dental records have been sent to help with identification.
"We are keeping our fingers crossed, as strange as that may sound, we are hoping that it’s Paul because it’s been a long year and a half," Robinson said.
Robinson continued, "If it isn’t, then hopefully it will bring closure to some other family, if they do belong to someone else. But we're optimistic. We're very cautious at this point because we don’t want to get our hopes up. Hopefully the dental records will clarify whether it’s Paul or not."
Earlier this year, family and friends returned to Joshua Tree National Park to the park to search for Miller.
Robinson told CTV News the family passed within 21 yards of the location where the remains were later discovered during one of their multiple ground searches.