FBI: Human remains found near Toppenish may be California men missing since last summer

Josiah Hilderbrand Jon Cleary
Josiah Hilderbrand (L) and Jon Cleary

YAKIMA CO., Wash. — The FBI is “investigating the possibility” that human remains found near Toppenish may be two missing California men: 25-year-old Josiah Hilderbrand and 48-year-old Jon Cleary.

FBI spokesperson Steven Berndt said a road construction crew found human remains Wednesday afternoon while working on a section of U.S. Highway 97 and called local authorities.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, the crew was sealing pavement cracks between mileposts 50 and 57, about 10 miles south of Toppenish. Berndt said the remains had likely been there through the winter, if not earlier.

Hilderbrand and Cleary were last seen June 7 on their way to a concert in George. Their car was found the following day abandoned in an orchard at 8100 Lateral B Rd. in Wapato — less than a 30-minute drive away from where five people were shot and killed that same day.

The case turned into a homicide investigation and authorities later came to believe the men were killed in connection to the White Swan murders.

Hilderbrand’s mother, Liz Hilderbrand, told KAPP-KVEW that authorities were able to positively identify the remains based on belongings that were found.

Liz Hilderbrand has been looking for answers for over a year in the disappearance of her son. She shared about the heartbreaking experience on a Facebook page called Help Bring Josiah Home. On Wednesday, she posted that her son had been found.