Discovery of son's remains brings measure of comfort to Bel Air residents

Years of pain and unanswered questions ended for two Bel Air residents this week with word that their son's remains have been found in Vermont.

William Michael Hogan's skeletal remains were found Sunday by a hunter in Cuttingsville, Vt., on land adjacent to the 600-acre ranch where he was being treated for a mental illness when he disappeared in May 2005.

Dental records confirmed the identity of the remains. Vermont state trooper Lt. Timothy Oliver said more remains and personal effects were found in a subsequent search. Hogan was 28.

Police said there were no signs of trauma, but no cause of death had been determined. Further forensic tests were planned.

"Maybe we'll never know," said Hogan's father, William Michael Hogan, 63. "At least we know he's deceased and can give him a proper burial."

Repeated searches in Vermont by law enforcement and civilians over the years found nothing. The family's own search took Hogan's father and mother, Sandra Hopkins, 63, to California, where an informant had reported their son was living, purportedly homeless.

"Apparently, that was all a hoax," Hogan said Wednesday. So was another tip from the same woman that their son was working as a woodsman in Oregon. "She was the best liar I ever met." There was a reward for information leading to their son, but the woman never received any money.

"I guess for the past year I've been convinced Michael was dead," Hogan said. "What was important to me was to find him ... Then out of the blue comes this call from police in Vermont."

"I'm very grateful we have found him and can bring him home," Hogan said.

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

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