The wooded area near Sturry where remains of a body were found
A member of the public found the bones of John Phillips, who was 77 when he disappeared from his home in High Street, Manston on March 20, 1998.
They were hidden in undergrowth at Kemberland Woods, about 150 yards off the Herne Bay Road.
His son Barry said: “We are relieved as a family that dad has finally been found, but obviously very sad about the circumstances.”
Police have been working with the Missing Persons Bureau to establish his identity since the discovery in April.
They made the initial identification using descriptions of his clothing and followed that up with DNA evidence to confirm it. A forensic archaeologist and a forensic odontologist also helped in the identification.
A post-mortem examination of his body was not able to reveal a cause of death, but there were no signs of trauma so police don’t believe his death was suspicious.
Detectives have established that a relative of Mr Phillips’s lived near the wood and that he may have known the area.
Det Ch Insp David Chewter said: “I hope that it is a comfort to the members of Mr Phillips’s family that we have been able to provide an answer for them. They are in our thoughts at what must be a difficult time.”
Self-employed decorator Stephen Birch lives next to
the woods and was at home
when Mr Phillips’s bones were discovered on April 16.
He told the Gazette: “At first I thought there were people trying to cut the trees down, even though they’re protected.
“These woods were once used by naturists. I’m going back 20 or a few more years here.”