Remains found near Twisp

— Remains believed to be those of a local man missing for nearly two years were found last Monday after the local police chief’s dog brought home a human skull.

“From the evidence we found at the scene, we believe the remains are that of Nicholas A. Tortora, 21, of Twisp,” Okanogan County Sheriff Frank Rogers said.

Police Chief Paul Budrow received a call around noon from his family, who said their dog had brought home the skull, Rogers said. Budrow lives about four miles south of town on state Highway 153.

Budrow went home and was joined by Sheriff’s Office Chief Criminal Deputy Dave Rodriguez and deputy Andre Loranc.

“The three then began to search the area along the river and after approximately four hours, discovered the rest of the remains,” Rogers said.

The body was about 100 yards from the Methow River in a heavily wooded area and about a half-mile south of his home.

His family was notified. The remains have been sent for testing to make a positive identification, the sheriff said.

Tortora was reported missing by his family June 3, 2012. He apparently had been despondent when he left home and his family wasn’t sure where he’d gone or what he planned to do. They also believed he may have gone back to New Mexico, where he had been living, Rogers said.

At the time, deputies and searchers didn’t know where he’d gone, but a cell phone ping came up showing the phone was in the Twisp area, possibly near Lookout Mountain, about five miles northwest of where the remains eventually were located, he said.

Although several people searched for days, the hunt was called off because there was no clear idea of where to look.

Over the next month, several areas were checked but nothing was ever found, Rogers said. Another phone check was tried June 29, 2012, but the phone wasn’t working.

“At that time, the search for Tortora was ended and he was listed as a missing person,” Rogers said. “Nothing at the scene or what we know now indicates any foul play in this case.”

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