Remains found in Selway Bitterroot area tentatively identified

Ravalli County Sheriff Steve Holton told us Wednesday that the remains found in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness area this week have been tentatively identified as a Missoula Missing Man.

Holton provided these details:

“It was actually the night before last, the Forest Service Trail volunteer crew, some of the supervisors found human remains and bones about five miles from the Bass Creek trailhead on the Bitterroot Selway,” said the Sheriff Holton. “We had deputies and investigators hike yesterday who recovered the remains and processed the scene.”

Holton said he and his department were confident they knew the identity of the remains, based on previous extensive research.

“At this point we’re pretty confident that we can tentatively identify the person as Philip Stokey,” he said. “He was the subject of a fairly intense search and rescue operation in August 2020. We put many days and many hours of labor and helicopters and dogs into this search, but we didn’t we were never able to find it.”

Holton repeated that he was sure of the identification.

“Based on the evidence and the things the guys found at the scene yesterday, as I said, we’re pretty confident that we can tentatively identify him,” he said. “We will obviously be working with the Montana State Crime Lab to confirm all of this.”

Holton said the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula will handle official identification of the remains.

“We have good pathologists at the crime lab in Missoula, and, and hopefully, we can put some things together with that and find a solid cause and manner (of death).” he said. “It’s bittersweet. It’s really nice to be able to tell friends and family and maybe give them some closure. But on the other hand, it’s still bad news for anyone.

Stokey, 37, was a resident of Missoula. He was reported missing in August 2020.

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