Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced new developments yesterday in the case of Michael Giovanni Cocchini, a man thought to be missing in the Park since March.
On Friday, park employees discovered items thought to belong to Cocchini near the area where his vehicle was originally found parked along Newfound Gap Road. On Saturday and Sunday searchers combed the area where clothing and other items consistent with those last seen on Cocchini were located.
On Monday human remains were discovered in the area, but have not yet been positively identified. Cocchini’s family has been notified of the new developments.
The remains are being sent to the medical examiner for analysis and possible identification.
A search for Cocchini began on March 20th when rangers became suspicious after noticing that his vehicle had been parked for several days at a quiet walkway along Newfound Gap Road - approximately 1 mile south of the Park's Sugarlands Visitor Center. The walkway does not connect to the Park's trail system, so there would be no reason for backpackers to leave vehicles there overnight. The walkway is a short, easy, trail that extends into the woods a short distance off the road and then dead-ends at the West Prong of the Little Pigeon River.
Hiking in the Smokies