Human remains found in a remote ravine in Utah's American Fork Canyon are believed to be those of a 24-year-old who went missing early last year, according to the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
A 70-year-old local man was hiking American Fork Canyon on April 14 when he contacted deputies about finding the skeletal remains believed to be Jerika Binks, who went missing on Feb. 18, 2018, according to Sergeant Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff's Office.
Cannon told ABC News that there were a few personal items at the scene that were consistent with the description of the property Binks was said to have with her on the day she went missing. He also said that, at first glance, there was evidence the victim had sustained injuries and that it was unlikely she was brought there by someone else before or after her death.
“It would be a strenuous hike or climb to get where the remains were found — very steep, very rocky, difficult terrain," he said. "It’s entirely possible this person had an accident [or] a fall of some kind."
Based on the evidence they collected, there was no evidence to suggest foul play was involved, Cannon said, but he also noted that a deeper analysis is necessary.
Binks was last seen on both surveillance video and trail camera footage jogging near the area, Cannon said.
“She was an aggressive runner, she liked hiking in the mountains," he said. "We don’t know if she’s been before but it wouldn’t be a shock that she has taken a challenging hike like this."
The Utah County Sheriff's has informed the family of the possible discovery of Binks’ remains.
The man who found the remains told deputies that he lives nearby and that, despite spending a lot of time in the canyons, he hadn't been to the ravine yet, which is why he chose to visit Sunday night, Cannon said.
The man also said that on his way up the ravine, he saw some items scattered around and assumed they were trash left by other hikers. It wasn't until he was on his way back down that he spotted the skeletal remains, according to Cannon.
It took authorities around 40 minutes to get to the scene, Cannon said, because it was an area that they hadn’t responded to before.
“My reaction was, 'Wow, this was a rough canyon. I can’t imagine anyone coming up here,'” said Cannon.
The remains were recovered on Monday morning and taken to the Medical Examiner's office in Taylorsville, where they will be identified and a cause of death will be determined.