PICKENS COUNTY — The search for a missing Sunset man came to a close on Wednesday after deputies and volunteer searchers discovered a body in a heavily wooded area near his last known location.
Gabriel Bradley Hein, 28, was reported missing to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office after he was last seen walking away from his parents’ home at 580 Little Estatoee Road on May 31.
Reports stated that Hein was exhibiting signs and symptoms characteristic of paranoia and making strange statements to family members that “people were out to get him.”
In an ongoing effort to locate Hein, PCSO Chief Deputy Creed Hashe said on Tuesday that the department was going to use search dogs to further scour the area.
The next day, they found him.
“The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, along with volunteer searchers, located a deceased person earlier today just before noon,” said Hashe. “Canines commonly referred to as ‘cadaver dogs’ — that are specifically trained in the detection of deceased animals to include humans — were utilized in the search that occurred early this morning.”
The victim was located in an extremely remote, wooded area approximately one half mile from the residence where Hein was reported missing, said Hashe.
Sheriff’s deputies stated the remains are believed to be Hein’s based on several pieces of evidence found at the scene and that preliminary investigation suggests the victim may have died as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
A handgun was also recovered at the scene, reports state.
Sheriff Rick Clark was on the scene during the search and responded to the remote site where the victim was recovered.
“We had never given up hope that we could find Mr. Hein alive and well so that we could reunite him with his family and get him the help that he needed,” said Clark. “Unfortunately, it appears that in the early stages of his disappearance he chose to end his life. Our hearts and prayers continue to remain with his family during this heartbreaking discovery today.”
The PCSO stated that further examination of the body has been requested by the Coroner’s Office to confirm the identity of the deceased.
The investigation remains active and is still ongoing pending the results of that examination.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.