Human remains found in rural Shasta County over the weekend are believed to be of an 87-year-old Belmont man who has been missing for more than a month, a Belmont police captain announced today. Paul Merrill was last seen on Sept. 4 and his car was found on Thursday on a rancher’s 500-acre property outside of the community of Burney, Belmont police Capt. Patrick Halleran said.
The rancher was clearing brush when he found Merrill’s silver 1956 Mercdes SL190 convertible, which appeared to have been on the property for sometime, Halleran said. Merrill’s wallet, car keys and other belongings were also found in the vehicle, according to Halleran. On Friday, Shasta County sheriff’s deputies searched for Merrill in a heavily wooded area with steep terrain near where the car was found and the California Highway Patrol also searched for him by air, the captain said. Search crews found human remains about 100 yards away from Merrill’s car on Saturday and turned it over to the Shasta County coroner’s office, Halleran said.
Authorities do not suspect foul play, he said. Merrill was last seen at a gas station in McCloud, a Siskiyou County city in the Mt. Shasta area where he had gone on a trip, Halleran said. A family member reported Merrill missing after the Belmont man had checked out of a McCloud hotel and hadn’t heard from him since, according to Halleran. Law enforcement agencies searched through Siskiyou County based on two reported sightings of the Belmont man and his car days after he had gone missing, Halleran said.
On Sept. 9, Siskiyou County sheriff’s deputies received a tip of Merrill’s car seen in Redding, a city in Shasta County, and shifted search efforts in that area, the captain said.
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