After more than two years of not knowing what happened to his troubled son, a Kennewick father now has closure.
Rodney Lynn Pipes was broke, out of a job and going through hard times when he was last seen in October 2008, said his father, Lewis Pipes, on Tuesday.
Pipes reported his son missing on Oct. 29, 2008, two days after he disappeared. He told police his son had a drinking problem, but gave no indication the 47-year-old was suicidal, said Kennewick police spokesman Mike Blatman.
A couple of weeks later, police learned Pipes might have been suicidal, and six months after that there was a report that a pistol he owned was missing, Blatman said.
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When skeletal remains were discovered this past month in Duffy's Pond near where Pipes had lived with his father, there was speculation the remains were Rodney Pipes because of the cowboy boots that were found with the bones.
That was confirmed Tuesday when dental records were used to make a positive identification.
Pipes died from a gunshot wound to his head. Benton County Coroner John Hansens ruled the death was a suicide.
Pipes' pistol, which was reported missing in May 2009, was recovered from Duffy's Pond with the remains, Blatman said.
"I really loved him," Lewis Pipes said. "He was a really nice kid."
Kennewick dentist Dr. Michael Shannon, who is specially trained in forensic dentistry, used an X-ray of a couple of Rodney Pipes' lower teeth to help confirm the identity of the remains.
Standing in the hallway of the coroner's office, Shannon quickly analyzed the X-ray, describing the teeth to two of his employees, Ashley Tilton and Leslie Craven, as they jotted down notes.
They then moved into the autopsy room along with Hansens and Kennewick police Detective Brian Pochert to examine the skull. Shannon appeared to go through a standard dental exam, noting fillings and other work on each tooth.
After a thorough exam, Shannon concluded that "with the X-rays you have, this is a match."
It's the second time Hansens has called on Shannon to help him identify remains through dental records, and Hansens said he's impressed that Shannon could make a positive identification on Rodney Pipes' remains "even with the limited amount of material on the X-ray."
"That's the interesting part of my job," Hansens said, "to see an expert come in and put it together."
Hansens said he believes Pipes' body had been in the pond near Clover Island since he went missing.
The remains were found Feb. 7 by a survey crew mapping the water's edge. They called 911 after spotting cowboy boots, leg bones, a coat and a partially buried skull.
An autopsy conducted by Dr. Jeffery Reynolds, a forensic pathologist from Yakima, had determined the remains belonged to a man who was at least 35 years old and who died in the past 18-30 months.
Kennewick police searched their missing persons reports to try to find a possible match and then had to get a subpoena to obtain dental records from out of state. The X-rays arrived at the coroner's office on Monday, Hansens said.
Blatman said Rodney Pipes was not initially reported as a missing person, just as a "suspicious circumstance," because he hadn't been seen or returned home for two days. An attempt to locate him was issued in the region, and area hospitals and detox centers were checked because Pipes was said to have a drinking problem, Blatman said.