As clouds darkened the sky, threatening rain, Covington City police officers and firefighters joined officers from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in a search of the woods and fields just east of the intersection of City Pond Road and Bob Williams Parkway.
A bleached skull was discovered by surveyors around 1 p.m.
"That's how a lot of these remains are found," said Captain Craig Treadwell of the Covington Police.
So far, he said, officers had recovered a number of bones, including part of a skull, a jaw and leg and arm bones. They also found a partially buried vest and boots.
Investigators are photographing, marking and catalogue the scene, he said. Once searchers have found as much material as possible, they will gather it and turn it over to the coroner, who will then turn it over to the GBI. But finding the remains and possible clues to the identity of the remains can be challenging.
"The debris field could be at least 200-by-200-yards," Treadwell said, adding that most had probably been scattered by animals like coyotes.
Complicating the search are the recent rains, which have created ponds out of mud holes, and fallen leaves and other woodland debris. Treadwell said the searchers will be as thorough as possible, but "we're trying to beat the rain. The rain could wash away things, making it harder to find or recover more items."
The search will be called off at dark.
If the search team can find identification, the GBI will use dental records to make a positive identification. If no identification is found, they might be able to find and use DNA to identify the remains.
Currently, Treadwell said, no one is missing in the City of Covington.
"These are the kind of cases you just don't like," Treadwell said. "There are so many variables."