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Indiahoma remains belong to lost resident

Comanche County_The wait is finally over for an Indiahoma family who has been missing a loved one for more than 16 months.  Last week 7News reported that remains were found by a hiker.  Now, they've been identified as belonging to Gene Hartman who walked away from his home.  His family had not seen him since.  They had hoped for the best, but were prepared for the worst.

This wasn't the news the family wanted to hear, but Hartman's family says it will bring some closure to over a year of uncertainty.  Investigators delivered the news to Hartman's family Monday - the skeletal remains the hiker found were Gene's.

Shirley Hartman, Gene's younger sister, had been active in the search for her brother since he went missing.  Tuesday began the sad task of taking down the fliers she had posted more than a year ago.  Shirley kept hearing reports of sightings of her brother so she hoped that he was alive and that someday she'd find him. 

"I'd go places - go into stores - and look around and not buy anything.  Just [hoping] to run into him and find him to tell me to come home," she says.  "It never happened."  Instead, after John Parker stumbled upon human remains while hiking last Tuesday, then began the suspicions that the remains may have belonged to Gene.  FBI Investigators say they identified Hartman by matching his dental records to the remains.

Hartman, as 7News reported, was mentally disabled and was on seizure medication which may explain why he managed to get lost, so close to home on that sweltering day.  ""It just hurts us to know he was there with no water, no food - and then the hot sun - and had a seizure," says Shirley.  "That's probably what killed him."  Hartman's death has been ruled as undetermined since no blunt trauma was found.  Without skeletal evidence, officials say it's almost impossible to find evidence of foul play.

Shirley says she'll always remember her brother's humor and love of sports and music.  "He meant the world to us," she says.  "He was like the heart of our family."  As she took down the fliers, reality began to sink in.  The hope she had all these months of finding her brother alive is gone.  "He'll always mean something to me ...I'm going to miss him," she said as she shed some tears.

Gene's family plans to bring him - along with belongings found at the scene - home for his funeral.  Funeral arrangements are pending.

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