Also known as “Inchworm,” Geraldine Largay was supposed to meet up with her husband in Maine in July 2013, just a couple of hundred miles shy of finishing her trek. But she never showed up, and massive search efforts for her turned up nothing.
That changed Friday, when Maine officials announced the discovery of skeletal remains that are likely Largay’s.
“Positive identification will be determined in the coming weeks by the Medical Examiner’s Office,” reads a statement from the Maine Department of Insland Fisheries and Wildlife. “However, due to the location of the remains and evidence gathered at the scene, the Maine Warden Service feels confident that Geraldine has now been located.”
Authorities said they don’t believe Largay’s disappearance and death is the result of foul play, and the remains will be examined to also determine the exact cause of death.
A contractor conducting a land survey on property owned by the U.S. Navy stumbled across the skeletal remains Oct. 14, according to the Maine Warden Service. The scene also had “several pieces of clothing and belongings consistent with items known to be in Largay’s possession,” the agency announced.
The remains were found in a wooded spot about 3,000 yards from the Appalachian Trail, an area previously searched by three dog teams, Maine Warden Service’s Lt. Kevin Adam said, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Maine’s 282-mile portion of the Appalachian Trail is its “most challenging, rugged and remote state,” according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Geraldine Largay of Tennessee began hiking the trail’s northern section in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., in April 2013. She last saw her husband July 21, 2013, near the town of Rangeley, Maine, as she set out for a 32-mile stretch of hiking.
George Largay received a text message from his wife later that day, telling him she had reached the top of Saddleback Mountain, according to authorities. She was last seen July 22, 2013, the same day rain came down in torrents.
On Friday, the Maine Warden Service said the Largay family “has asked for time to come to terms with this information” before speaking publicly.
Weeks after she went missing in 2013, George Largay returned to Tennessee and tried to get the word out about his missing wife. “The uncertainty is the toughest part,” he told the Tennessean. “Until they find Gerry, there’s always the unknown, and that’s almost tougher than the known.”
The family planned a memorial service as the uncertainty weighed on them, while George Largay told reporters “she was absolutely where she wanted to be, doing absolutely what she wanted to be doing with every fiber of her being.”
“She would want this to help inspire somebody who’s maybe on the sidelines, and never thought about doing something like this at age 66, almost 67, to not hold back, just to really to go for it,” he told the newspaper. “Because she embraced life, and she would want anyone who reads about this to — that this would serve as a reason to do it, or to do something else that they were thinking about, versus to sit on the sidelines and play safe.”