Roanoke Rapids police Chief Chuck Hasty said identification was made through examination of dental and medical records by the state Chief Medical Examiner’s Office.
Hasty said investigators continue to wait on the results of an autopsy to determine a cause of death. There were no signs of blunt force or other trauma on Youngblood’s body.
Hasty declined speculation on how Youngblood ended up at the location where city public works employees found him on March 21 behind the vacant building. The building is located off the highway in the area of Spring and Carter streets in the Hodgestown community beside First Baptist Church.
Captain Bobby Martin said investigators believe Youngblood may have been behind the building since the latter part of last July or the first of August, a period which roughly coincides with the time he was last seen and the time he was reported missing.
Youngblood was last seen on July 20 of last year after he was dropped off from work and was reported missing on August 5, Hasty said in a statement.
Hasty said in the statement investigators received a call Thursday evening around 5:30 p.m. from the medical examiner’s office confirming the positive identification.
He said the East Carolina University School of Anthropology played a crucial role in the investigation. “They are a great resource to help law enforcement and their work on this case was very much appreciated.”
Leann Bryant, who led an intense effort to find her friend, said this afternoon, “It breaks my heart he laid back there for so long. I have tried to prepare myself for this but you’re never prepared when they tell you it’s him. I do have that closure he is found now. I wanted it to be a happy ending but this isn’t. Nothing can prepare you for this.”
Bryant said she was appreciative of the efforts of law enforcement and commented on how Martin “never pushed me to the side. Sheriff Wes Tripp has been very good, too.”
Plans are now in the works to raise funds for Youngblood’s funeral expenses, Bryant said.
She has already consulted Kim Wallace, an advocate for the families of missing people from the area. “We’ll do something for him.”
Wallace said there will probably be plate sales and other fundraising events planned to help defray the cost of funeral expenses. “We’re going to brainstorm.”
Wallace said when she learned the news of the positive identification she was “caught between being happy for them because everybody deserves to come home” and the bittersweetness of the information “because you don’t know what happened. You finish one battle and then start another.”
Wallace said those wishing to make donations for funeral expenses may call her at 252-532-9592.