RED SPRINGS, N.C. (WNCN) – Human remains found last week in Robeson County have been identified as a man who has been missing since 2016.

Officials said the remains were identified as Billy Gene Hammonds, who was 36 at the time of his disappearance, by the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office after a body was recently found.

Hammonds was reported missing in December 2016, and the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office responded and searched for him.

It was thought in 2016 that Hammonds may have left the area in a vehicle with four other men, according to officials.

Officials have continued searching since the initial investigation, and the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office said its Criminal investigations, Crime Scene, and Cold Case Divisions completed multiple interviews.

Officials said they even traveled to other states recently and “obtained information about the case.”

Although law enforcement received information in 2018 that led to a search, at the time it did not lead to finding anyone.

Officials said a credible witness was recently interviewed and let them to locating the body of Hammonds on April 25 in the backyard of a residence in the 300 block of Lewis McNeil Road.

According to the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office, the recovery of the body took place at approximately 12:30 p.m. that Monday afternoon when homicide investigators, crime scene investigators and cold case investigators located the body in the backyard.

“I can only imagine the pain the family and friends must feel but I hope that this does bring some sort of closure to them. At least now the family can give Mr. Hammonds a proper final resting place,” said Sheriff Burnis Wilkins. “The Criminal Investigation Division and Cold Case Team have done a great job, but the investigation is far from over. We must now follow-up on multiple leads and revisit information and facts provided in 2016 when he was reported missing.”

If you have any information related to this, call the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office at (910) 671-3100 or (910) 671-3170.