Homicide investigation underway after human remains found in Kittitas County

Deputies investigating the possibility it may be a Kent man missing since May 2020

KITTITAS COUNTY, Wash. — Sheriff’s deputies have launched a homicide investigation into human remains found Friday in a remote area of Kittitas County.

“We believe that the person that we found was a victim of homicide,” Deputy Sheriff Chris Whitsett said. “We’re doing everything in our power to ensure that we identify this victim and preserve all the evidence possible to conduct an effective investigation for them.”

Whitsett said a hiker called 911 about 1:20 p.m. after finding something suspicious while recreating in the Stampede Pass area, which is near the border between Kittitas and King counties.

“One of our patrol deputies responded pretty quickly and was able to locate and identify what were obviously human remains,” Whitsett said.

Whitsett said evidence suggests foul play and investigators believe the victim has been dead for at least a few months. Deputies did not release further information about the location where the remains were found or any identifying characteristics.

“Due to the length of time the remains have been outside and the state of decomposition, the body was not immediately identifiable,” deputies said in a news release.

Whitsett said the sheriff’s office has not received any missing persons reports out of the Stampede Pass area, but is investigating the possibility the human remains may belong to Ian Eckles, who went missing out of the Liberty area in May 2020.

“It’s not impossible, based on what we know, that this could be Ian,” Whitsett said. “We haven’t ruled it out. It’s a possibility that we’re exploring.”

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The human remains were transported to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, where an autopsy was performed Tuesday. Whitsett said investigators should learn more about what happened in this incident by reviewing the autopsy results over the next few days.

Whitsett said investigators have withheld some information from the public in order to protect the integrity of the homicide investigation and prevent suspects from learning about how far along they are in their efforts to uncover what happened.

“Our intent is to develop information, discover a suspect, conduct that investigation and confirm our suspicions — before that person ever knows about it,” Whitsett said. “And if we release information prior to that, they have the opportunity to cover their tracks.”

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