For nearly a decade, Randy Thayn has been filled with pain, unable to answer the questions surrounding his son's disappearance in remote Emery County.
With the remains of Ryan Ray Thayn discovered inside a rocky crevice Friday afternoon, the breakthrough will provide his family with some closure, Thayn said, but in doing so it will also close the door on hope.
"It's bittersweet," Randy Thayn said. "When we didn't know, there was a possibility that he was out there. We know where he is now and it solves that for us. He's gone now. There's no hope."
An autopsy determined Ryan Thayn died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Emery County Sheriff LaMar Guymon said. Police found a gun with Thayn's body, and a slug recovered by the state medical examiner matched that weapon, Guymon said.
Investigators are still trying to determine whether the shooting was intentional or accidental.
Ryan Thayn was 25 years old when he went missing in November 1998.
The Wellington man maintained oil wells for Seeley Oil Co. and was working alone at a well in the Mounds area about 10 miles east of Wellington when his truck apparently broke down, police said at the time.
When he didn't return home, Ryan Thayn's parents called police and started searching for their son. They found his silver Toyota parked at the oil well. The truck was locked, and two car batteries and jumper cables had been left outside.
Each day, hundreds of searchers turned out and scoured the area's rolling hills and deep washes. They used helicopters, horses, ATVs and search dogs. They found nothing.
Ryan Thayn's footprints were all around his pickup and the oil well, and eventually police said they believed the man had left the valley either on his own or by force.
In Wellington, missing person posters still hang on buildings around town, and Guymon said his office received tips on Thayn's whereabouts each month for nearly a decade.
"We have been all over the United States following up on leads," Guymon said.
With the discovery of the body, a finding made by a group searching for an endangered species of cactus in remote Emery County, the posters will come down, the phones will stop ringing.
"We, most of all, are happy about the fact that we can bring some closure to the family who have spent 10 years in turmoil," Guymon said. "There have been a lot of rumors and accusations sweltering around this for the last 10 years, and those things can be put to rest."
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