Rutherford County Sheriff’s investigators and emergency responders processed the scene Thursday where remains were located Wednesday during a search for missing youth Devin Bond, said Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh in a press release.

Searchers found human remains believed to be those of Devin Bond in a wooded area Wednesday near the intersection of Barfield Crescent Road and Morton Road.

Bond’s mother, Heather Simmers-Bond, on Wednesday night posted on the “Bring Devin Home” Facebook page that she believed the remains were those of her son. Family friends set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses. Authorities, however, have cautioned that the medical examiner has yet to make an identification of the remains.

The sheriff’s office provided a detailed history of both the initial search for Bond when he disappeared as well as how they found his potential remains Wednesday.

The disappearance

Bond’s family reported him as missing on March 31, 2017. He was a Riverdale High School student.

Sheriff’s Detective Will Pinson said the investigation of Bond’s disappearance was extensive.

The investigation started the day his family reported Bond missing when K-9s searched the area around Bond’s home. The following day, K-9s conducted additional searches while an unmanned aerial vehicle and a helicopter with infra-red cameras conducted an aerial search off Barfield-Crescent Road.

A few days later, detectives received a tip Bond was seen about 4 a.m. March 31 on Barfield Crescent Road. A K-9 and handler searched the area but the search dog did not indicate Bond’s presence.

Phone provides clue

Pinson received Bond’s cell phone records, which showed that the last contact with the cellular network occurred at 4:56 a.m. on the day he disappeared. No precise location was given in the phone records, but they showed that the phone was in the area of Barfield-Crescent Road at last contact. In the following weeks, teams of citizens and detectives each searched the Barfield-Crescent Road area.

Detectives also interviewed Bond’s friends and acquaintances. One friend reported Bond told him he wanted to live as a homeless person. Detectives responded by looking for Bond in homeless camps and distributing flyers offering a reward for information about him to homeless camp residents.

Detectives responded to dozens of reported sightings around South Church Street and Veterans Parkway in the weeks after Bond’s disappearance but were unable to verify any of them.

“In the early days, the primary focus of the investigation was on locating a runaway teenager who was in danger,” Pinson said. “We felt he was alive and had run away.”

Pinson acquired records related to Bond’s social media accounts, but found no useful information. Bond hadn’t accessed any of the accounts since his disappearance.

New year, new tip

Earlier this year, an online gaming friend of Bond’s anonymously contacted a friend of Bond’s family. Pinson tracked him to San Antonio, Texas and traveled there to interview him. He told Pinson that Bond had made numerous comments about suicide and depression in the past.

Pinson, La Vergne Fire Chief Chris Clark and Rutherford County Fire and Rescue Captains Adam Rose and John Ingle began planning a large-scale search of about 1,000 acres in the Barfield-Crescent Road area. Bond’s family was aware of the planned search from the beginning.

Massive search planned

They decided to set the search Nov. 12-13 when typical weather conditions would be more favorable and the lack of foliage would give better sight for the searches. They scheduled out-of-state cadaver dogs and handlers a few months ago.

Pinson, Clark, Rose and Ingle planned the comprehensive search for one month and enlisted help from law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and emergency management agency responders countywide. Having planned a month earlier, they didn’t expect the frigid temperatures when the cadaver dogs and responders searched Tuesday and Wednesday.

During the planning stages and since Bond’s disappearance was reported, Pinson has followed up on numerous reported sightings and investigative leads.

In October, while the search was being planned, people reported a possible sighting of Bond in Peoria, Ill. Pinson reached out to the homeless shelters with a photograph of the man and was able to later identify him as a man from the state of Washington.

“This has been an exhaustive investigation,” Pinson said.

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