Jul 26, 2011 8:48 PM by Maddie Garrett

Skeletal Remains Identified, Family Gets Closure

An Abbeville man, who disappeared almost 30 years ago, is now identified as the skeleton remains found in the Bank of Abbeville chimney. It's been over two months since workers discovered the bones, and now that his identity is being released, the man's family can finally lay him to rest.

Joseph W. Schexnider was an Abbeville native and served in the National Guard. But in January 1984 he failed to show up for a court hearing in Abbeville, his family never saw or heard from him again. His family told police they did not report Schexnider missing because it was not uncommon for him to leave Abbeville without notice.

"His family said he had had history of leaving... and spending a lot of time away from Abbeville. In fact at one time he joined the circus and traveled around with them until they left the country," explained Abbeville Police Detective Lt. David Hardy.

DNA tests confirmed what Abbeville Police suspected, it was Schexnider's skeletal remains found in the Bank of Abbeville chimney in May 2011. The LSU Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Lab came in to analyze and identify the bones.

"We've not ever recovered one from a chimney before, that's a little unusual, so this was the first type of recovery like that that we've ever done before," said Mary Manhein, Director of the FACES Lab.

Hardy said it's still unclear why Schexnider climbed down the chimney. He had on him gloves, a cigarette lighter, watch and wallet; no bag if he was intending on robbing the bank. Hardy said there were no signs of distress or broken bones that would indicate homicide. They believe Schexnider died of dehydration and starvation.

"Hopefully this will give the family some closure. There's no signs of foul play in this investigation, so as of now it's going to be a closed case," said Hardy.

Schexnider's family asked police they not be identified at this time.

"His mother is upset that she lost a son of course, but she is at ease that she now knows where her son is," said Hardy.

Relatives told police they plan to hold a funeral for Schexnider once his remains are returned from the FACES Lab in Baton Rouge.



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