Human remains found by a climber in American Fork Canyon on Sunday may be those of Jerika Binks, a Utah County woman who has been missing for more than a year.
Deputies with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office were contacted by a man who said he discovered human remains while climbing in a remote ravine in the canyon Sunday, according to a press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Spencer Cannon, with the UCSO, said the place the remains were found is a drainage area, not a hiking trail.
“This is not an area where people say, ‘Hey, let’s go for a hike,’” Cannon said. “If it was, they would have found her sooner. The gentleman who found her hikes there frequently, but that ravine, that was the first time he had ever climbed up that drainage.”
The deputies responded to the area, near the Swinging Bridge picnic site, which the press release says contained extremely rugged and steep terrain. The human remains were located on the north side of the canyon, about 850 feet above the floor of the canyon. Personal items were located with the remains that are consistent with what Binks had on her at the time of her disappearance, the press release said.
Binks, who was 24 when she was last seen, has been missing since she left from a sober house in an unincorporated area near American Fork on Feb. 18, 2018. She told her roommates she was going running, left all her belongings except for her cellphone in her room and never returned.
The press release says that there is no evidence at this stage of the investigation to suggest foul play was involved in the death, though the remains showed evidence of injuries. The remains were recovered Monday morning, and have been taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office in Taylorsville, where positive identification will be made.
Cannon said they hope to have a positive identification on the remains by the end of the day Tuesday, depending on the availability of personnel to examine dental records. The condition of the body was consistent with the amount of time Binks has been missing, Cannon said.
“We feel pretty strongly that this is Jerika,” Cannon said. “But we don’t want to say with 100 percent certainty.”
Long runs were routine for Binks. She stayed in shape so she could always be ready whenever someone asked her to run a race and had sporadically run marathons, according to her family.
Cannon said Binks’ family has been notified of the developments.
Ever since her disappearance, Binks’ family has kept up the search, searching extensively around the Timpanogos Cave area with rescue teams, dogs, drones, helicopters and airplanes. A National Park Service motion-activated camera, placed on the closed Timpanogos Trail in the fall of 2017, captured images of Binks on the day she went missing.
The area searched extensively on the south side of the canyon was approximately a half-mile from where the human remains were found, Cannon said, on the north side of State Route 92.
Other areas of the canyon, including Tibble Fork Reservoir, had also previously been searched for Binks.
Family members of Binks did not immediately return a request for comment.