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Remains look to be that of Robert Kovack, student missing since 1998

By Eric DuVall   |   Updated March 12, 2016 at 6:34 PM

RIVESVILLE, W.Va., March 12 (UPI) -- Police in West Virginia said they have found human remains that evidence suggests may belong to a Virginia Tech architecture student who disappeared 17 years ago.

Robert Kovack was last seen withdrawing cash at an ATM on Sept. 18, 1998 near the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va. His mother, Jacqueline Kovack, said her son was planning a trip home that weekend and had called ahead to say he was coming.

He never arrived and was not heard from again.

Police investigating his disappearance at the time found Kovack's Geo Tracker on Rte. 19 in West Virginia, along the route he would have taken home, but no other evidence at the time was found. The car had run out of gas.

On Friday, construction workers preparing to replace the New River Gorge Bridge came across human skeletal remains. Police examining the scene found a wallet and keys near the remains they say belonged to Kovack. The West Virginia Medical Examiner's Office is analyzing the bones to confirm they belong to Kovack, who was 24 when he disappeared.

Police said it is hardly uncommon to find bodies beneath the bridge — some four dozen bodies, many of them suicide victims, have been recovered there since Kovack disappeared. Police at the time searched the area but came up empty.

Jacqueline Kovack told CNN she does not believe her son would have committed suicide. He was an accomplished student who had already landed a job after graduation from Virginia Tech's masters program for architecture, she said.

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