The skeletal remains found in an abandoned well last month in Rockingham have been identified, police said.
According to Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly, the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office determined that the remains are those of Cecil Collins, a 58-year-old Rockingham man who has been missing since January 2009.
“They were able to get X-rays on a broken bone in his left arm,” said Chief Kelly, “and were able to match them 100 percent.”
Police said Collins’ brother filed a missing person report on the man with the Rockingham Police Department in 2009.
The bones were found on July 20 of this year when an amateur photographer from Charlotte stumbled upon the well at an abandoned TNS cotton mill on Lee Street in Rockingham.
It is unclear how the missing man’s body came to rest at the bottom of the well, but authorities have not ruled out any possibility.
“There is no evidence right now to say that foul play was involved — or that it wasn’t,” Kelly said. “According to the medical examiner, the injuries he discovered were consistent with a fall or blunt force trauma. He’s just not sure.”
The entrance to the well is located inside a small pump house on the property.
Inside the 15-foot deep well is a metal beam, Kelly said, and the injuries that were found by the medical examiner may have been caused by Collins falling and striking the metal beam, or from blunt force.
“It is just unknown,” Kelly said. “We are still continuing to investigate until all leads are exhausted.”
Collins’ sister, Regina Roscoe, said she felt some relief knowing that her brother had been discovered.
“I’ve had so much of a burden on me … ,” Roscoe said with a shaky voice. “He was gone for three years and (seven) months and now, it’s a relief off of me. I’m so happy that person found him.”
Roscoe currently lives in Hamlet with her husband, Ervin, and has two daughters. She also has another brother, Ronnie, who lives in Rockingham.
Roscoe said Cecil was staying with their brother off and on before he disappeared.
“He was a really good person,” Roscoe said. “He never harmed anybody … He loved to walk and he loved to go fishing.” When they were younger, Roscoe said, Cecil would often visit her and Ronnie.
“He used to love to ride a bicycle to see me and my brother,” she said. “We lived separate. I lived in Hamlet and he lived all the way in Rockingham. He rode that far in the hot summertime.”
Roscoe said Cecil also loved country music, and that his favorite singers were George Strait and Lorrie Morgan.
She said the last time she saw Cecil was the Thanksgiving before he disappeared.
“He used to come to my house every Thanksgiving because he knew I would cook,” Roscoe said. That particular year, she said she remembered talking with him about their parents and how their mother always used to cook on Thanksgiving.
Though police continue to investigate the circumstances of Collins’ death, Roscoe said she is just glad to know where he is.
“I’m just thankful that they found him because I had so wondered all those years, where is my brother?” Roscoe said. “I’m glad I got closure and I’m also happy the guy found him — God bless him.”
Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 16, or by email at email@example.com.