Oklahoma couple finally gets answers in son’s disappearance

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McAlester, Okla. - Troy Grumbine's parents adored him.

"He was an excellent student.  Very intelligent," said Kay Grumbine.  "He was the treasurer of his senior class and he was on the academic decathlon team."

As he got older, he began to travel.

"He went to Vegas one time and he went to the Trump tower one time," said Kay Grumbine.

But he would always call his parents, until February 1, 2004.

Troy, 34 years old at the time, left his Irving, Texas apartment in the middle of the night.

His car was found abandoned along a lonely stretch of Interstate 10, 15 miles west of Deming, New Mexico.

"His wallet, id, his money was in the car.  There was also a Kentucky Fried Chicken meal that he had just purchased in Deming, New Mexico that was sitting there in the seat.  That's all we had to go on," said Irving Police Detective, Rodney Bergeron.

New Mexico State police did an extensive air and ground search and found nothing.

"It was such a weird mystery," said Det. Bergeron.

"Very sad, cried a lot.  I sing in the choir at church.  I could hardly sing on Sundays," said Kay.

Grant and Kay Grumbine did everything they could to find their son.

But as the years slowly ticked by, they began losing hope.

"Grant used to say surely hope that we find him before he died because you know you don't want to leave this earth not knowing what happened," said Kay.

Ten long years passed and then this past summer there was a knock on the door at the Grumbine's McAlester home.

"He first said he had some good news and he had some bad news.  And when he said that I figured we knew, we knew," said Kay.

And what's so unusual about this case is who found Troy.

Her name is Henrike Hoeren, a 24-year-old woman; a German citizen living in Ireland, with an unusual hobby - researching missing persons cases.

"I started to go on Google maps and look up you know the highway where it went," said Hoeren.

Earlier this year, only about two hours into her search, Hoeren came across a case about a man hit and killed along an interstate in Arizona.

"I saw this remain that was found and I got shivers because I thought oh no, I don't know, it wasn't oh no, I thought that's him," said Hoeren.

"A German citizen who lives in Ireland put this all together from overseas," said Det. Bergeron.

Det. Bergeron says they determined Troy must have abandoned his car for some reason and hitchhiked to Arizona where he was hit and killed while walking on the highway there.

His body was never identified.

"They buried him in the cemetery in a John Doe grave," said Det. Bergeron.

And that's where Troy Grumbine lay for 10 years; Sunset Cemetery in Wilcox, Arizona.

His DNA was never entered into the national missing persons database which is why Irving police never got a hit.

Detective Bergeron will be forever grateful for the young woman in Ireland.

"It's just amazing that there's someone out there that has a heart for missing persons," said Det. Bergeron.

"Now you know he's never coming back," said Kay.

And of course, the Grumbines, who despite the finality of the news, got their son back.

"I mean that was just unreal.  God sent an angel that brought our son home," said Kay.

Troy's body was exhumed and cremated and then sent to his parents' home in McAlester, Oklahoma.

The cross he was wearing when he died made it home as well.

They were able to honor him with a Memorial service at their church and he now has a permanent resting place inside All Saints Episcopal.

"I mean you know you just don't want to go through life with all this unknown to you," said Kay.  "We were so relieved we'd found him."

As for why Troy wandered away from his car in the first place; his parents say he suffered from mental illness.

He was diagnosed as bipolar his senior year in high school.