The remains of a father of four who went missing in 1961 have been discovered buried under the basement of his former home by his bereaved son and grandsons.
George Carroll disappeared in 1961 from his Long Island home in New York state in 1961, when his son, Michael, was just eight months old.
Michael’s mother Dorothy would never give him or his brothers and sisters a convincing answer about what had happened, only saying Mr Carroll had walked out one day and not come back.
Rumours of foul play abounded during the younger Mr Carroll’s childhood but he was never able to properly quiz his mother, who also failed to file a missing persons report.
“I was always told, ‘Don’t ask,’” Mr Carroll told the New York Post. “So I stopped asking.”
Mrs Carroll died in 1998, leaving only unanswered questions and the home in Lake Grove, a small village on Long Island, to Mr Carroll, who moved in with his own family.
Three years ago, his curiosity got the better of him and he began seriously trying to find any evidence of his father in the basement.
At one point, he brought in a psychic, who he said pointed to a specific spot in the cement basement floor.
“There was a guy who came to my basement, and he went to the right spot and said, ‘The energy is here,’” Mr Carroll said.
Eventually, he and his two adult sons began digging through the floor to try and clear up the mystery once and for all.
Using ground-penetrating radar, the 57-year-old thought he could spot something about six feet below the layer of concrete which was worth investigating.
The project to dig down took years. At one point he worried he had damaged the foundations and later he was laid low by a stroke. His sons continued the work sporadically.
Finally, the day before Halloween, when they were digging at the exact spot the psychic had identified years earlier, the Carrolls found human remains.
“They were twisted in a knot, weird-looking,” Mr Carroll said. “It was down and twisted in the dirt...not totally exposed, either.”
Now, authorities have tested the bones dug out from under the basement and confirmed through DNA testing they did belong to George Carroll.
The skull showed evidence of blunt force trauma and local police have opened a murder investigation.
“There’s so many open ends here,” Mr Carroll told a local TV station. “There’s a story behind the story behind the story.”
“I took a chance. I could have done this whole thing and found nothing, and then I would have had a whole messed-up basement.
“I have a messed-up basement. But I’m really glad we found what we found. It puts my family at ease.”
Shortly after George Carroll disappeared, a man called Richard Darress moved into the family home and eventually married Dorothy.
The pair divorced in the 1980s and Mr Darress died earlier this year, according to the Newsday newspaper.
Police said they would have liked to interview Mr Darress if he was still alive, and their enquiries continue.
But Mr Carroll and his siblings are just happy to have found their father after 57 years.
“I feel great that my dad is finally free from that crappy hole,” Mr Carroll said.
Asked what emotions he felt when he saw the remains, he said: “I felt total peace. I felt vindication for my dad. I felt like he was dancing in heaven.”
The family is now planning to reinter the remains of their Korean War veteran father in a ceremony with full military honours.
“This is going to be a great thing for him, to be emancipated from that place where he didn’t belong,” Mr Carroll said.
Mr Carroll’s older brother Steven, who was five when his father went missing, told the New York Post the discovery, however macabre, would bring closure to the family.
“It just struck me that he has been here the whole time and it’s wonderful,” he said. “The grandchildren can now say Grandpa was found.”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies