Family remembers man whose remains were recovered in the Smokies

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GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have released the identity of remains recovered in the park earlier this week.

David J. Carver, 64, of Rockford Walker Court in Rockford was found in an off-trail area near Laurel Creek Road between Townsend and Cades Cove on Monday.

Officials said at the time of the discovery that the remains appeared to be several months old.

Wilma Carver reported her brother, David, missing to the Blount County Sheriff’s Office on June 2 after she couldn’t locate him and his friends didn’t know where he was. She last saw him in April and told a deputy he had a history of heart problems.

The Knox Country Regional Forensic Center positively identified Carver through comparison of medical records.

Wilma Carver said she got a call from Blount County investigators on Monday, telling her they couldn’t yet confirm the remains found were her brothers.

She said they told her though, that her brother’s wallet and ginseng roots were found in the clothes on the body.

Wilma Carver knew with those clues that the remains were her brother.

“He was a mountain man. He loved being up in the mountains. He was an avid ginseng hunter, and that actually was what he was doing,” she said.

She said David Carver was the fifth out of six children. The two of them were the closest.

David Carver was a loving person who liked to prank others, but would give the shirt off of his back to someone if they needed it, his sister said.

Wilma Carver talked with her younger brother often, so when he hadn’t reached out to her after a couple of weeks, she got worried.

“I might not always be able to get a hold of him, so I would call one of his best friends, and within two hours David would be calling me,” she said.

The last time Wilma Carver heard from him was April 17.

She reached out to her sister who owns the home David Carver was renting, who said she hadn’t seen their brother since late April.

They checked his bank statements to see if he had recently used his money.

“We saw that his bank account had not been touched at all during the month of May. June’s bank statement rolled around. His bank had not been touched in June either,” Wilma Carver found.

The last time David Carver touched his bank account was April 29.

Wilma Carver knew in her gut that he went hunting for ginseng that day. She also knew that had to be the day he went missing.

“He was in the mountains weekly. He knew the mountains in the back of his hand and, that’s why this is just totally, took me by surprise that this happened,” she said.

Wilma Carver said her brother had been ginseng hunting for about 45 years.

Although it was illegal to do so during certain months of the year, and always illegal at the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, ginseng hunting was something he loved to do and was good at.

It was also how he made a living, Wilma Carver said reluctantly.

A few aspects about where her brother’s body was found, and who found him, left her with questions.

“The park ranger said he’d just about had to get on his hands and knees and climbed up there where (David Carver) was at and fallen,” she said.

She also knew that whenever he went out to the mountains, he always paid a friend to give him a ride.

Wilma Carver isn’t sure if her younger brother suffered a heart attack or from a heat stroke while hunting that day.

Knowing he died doing what he loved gives her a little peace after losing the second brother in six months.

“He’s going to be very missed. Very, very missed. I loved my brother with all of my heart,” Wilma Carver cried.

David Carver’s cause of death and activity at time of death are under investigation. An autopsy is being performed.

No additional details are available at this time.

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