New River Gorge Bridge: Human Remains Found Could Belong To Robert Kovack, Who Has Been Missing For 18 Years

According to West Virginia State Police, human remains were discovered in a wooded area near the New River Gorge Bridge. Along with the human remains, car keys, a driver’s license, and a student ID belonging to Robert Kovack were also found. Police believe that the human remains and personal items could harbor the clues they have been looking for in order to solve Kovack’s missing persons case from 1998.

Robert Kovack

Robert Kovack was last seen on September 18, 1998. At the time of his disappearance, Kovack was attending Virginia Tech as a graduate student. According to Kovack’s roommate, Robert was planning on driving home to visit his parents in Rivesville, West Virgina. Robert’s parents were never called by Robert to let them know he was on his way to see them. This was out of character for him.

Police were able to determine a timeline where they believed Kovack vanished. An ATM camera has him removing $80 at 5:21 p.m. and a classmate reported seeing him at 5:45 p.m. The classmate stated that Robert looked exhausted. The police theorized Kovack left for Rivesville between 5 and 7 p.m.

On September 23, police found Kovack’s vehicle. The vehicle was found locked on the driver’s side and abandoned one mile away from the New River Gorge bridge. The vehicle had no gasoline in it. A gas station attendant claimed that a person matching Robert’s description came into his gas station on September 18. The attendant said the person claimed his vehicle ran out of gas.

Vehicle Robert Kovack Was Driving

Police believe that Robert never intended to leave town like he said to his roommate. They base this theory on the fact that a majority of his personal belongings were left behind such as his shaving kit, toothbrush, and toothpaste. These were all items that he would have taken with him for a trip to his parents house.

Kovack’s roommate showed strange behavior after Robert vanished. According to Robert’s family, the roommate packed up all of Robert’s belongings and sent them to his parents. They never asked the roommate to do that. It was also discovered that the roommate took apart Robert’s bed prior to police arriving to investigate where Robert lived.

Preliminary results on the human remains discovered near the New River Gorge bridge appear to be those of Robert Kovack. The remains will be sent to Washington, D.C., for further analysis and confirmation that they are Kovack’s remains. Robert’s older brother, Mike Kovack, commented about the possibility that his brother has finally been found.

“As a family, we’re hopeful this is truly remains of my brother. However, until we can get proof positive identification, it’s speculation and conjecture at best. At that point we can all be at ease. But until then, we’ve got hopes that this is him.”

The family has had to deal with false hope in the past when other sets of human remains were found along the New River Gorge bridge. Since 1998, over 50 sets of human remains have been discovered in the area where Robert’s vehicle was found. The remains that police believe to be Robert were found due to a construction crew working on the bridge. Mike stated that the last 18 years have felt like a roller coaster ride due to all the ups and downs that have come with his brother’s case.

“We hope this ride ends, honestly. That’s what we hope. We hope we have some closure to this. Seventeen and a half years is a long time to not know.”

A positive identification of the human remains found by the New River Gorge bridge should be concluded by the middle of next week.

[Image Via AP Photo/Jeff Gentner]