Retired Texas doctor travels to Cape Girardeau Co. to thank those responsible for identifying his brother’s remains
CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - The long-awaited identification of human remains found in Cape Girardeau County more than 40 years ago brings a retired Texas doctor to the Heartland to say thank you.
Dr. Jim Travis has a warm greeting for the small group gathered at the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff’s Office on October 18. People he never knew until now. The people responsible for helping him bring his older brother Guy back home.
“Like meeting the family you don’t know you had,” Travis described.
Everyone was there, including the mushroom hunter who found Guy’s remains.
“Bill and Barb King. Good to meet you.”
And the first officer on the case.
“Doc Coombs. Thought so. Thank you so much.”
Travis also met the current investigators who gave those remains to Southeast Missouri State University Anthropology Professor Dr. Jennifer Bengtson in the hope of getting them identified.
“I couldn’t be more grateful. And thankful to her and her department at Southeast Missouri State University. And the police. Everyone involved,” he said.
This emotional journey for Travis and his longtime partner Susan Pryor actually began outside Blytheville, Arkansas. His brother Guy was attending a vo-tech school there when he stopped to help the man later convicted of killing him.
“And so, I ended up retracing his path,” Travis explained. “Walking the steps in the last hour of his life. That was a big emotional part for me. When I realized, this was my brother’s last hour was driving along this road.”
Travis then stopped at the wooded area off I-55 in Cape Girardeau County, where he now knows his brother was killed.
Bill King points it out to Travis as they look at a photo on his phone.
“Right. Right along there,” Travis pointed.
“It’s on this corner,” King added.
Jim said he sees everyone gathered there as his brother’s extended family.
“And by that, my extended family. So, it’s like meeting the family you didn’t know you had.”
And it didn’t take long for it to look and sound just like a family gathering.
King told Travis about the night he found Guy’s remains and how a reporter from KFVS hoped to interview him.
“They wanted me to go on television that night. The first time. And I said, ‘no, I’m not giving up my mushroom hunting place.’”
“Ah!” Travis exclaimed. “I’m not telling you where I was!”
Along with shared stories, Jim shared memory cards created by McCombs Funeral Home, which provided local services for Guy.
He gave one to Dr. Bengtson with a suggestion, “Put one on the shelf where he lay for so many years.” “Thank you so much.”
When we first talked to Jim Travis about the loss of his brother, he said he did not get the chance to grieve and didn’t know he needed to.
“My sister asked me what stage of grief I’m in now. And I told her the joy phase. He was our Guy too,” he told everyone. “And I really feel a sense of being reunited with him. 45 years later.”
Travis shared a quote from the Sermon on the Mount that captured how he’s feeling now that he has Guy back. One he repeated to us in the interview.
“The Master taught us, happy are they who mourn for they shall be comforted. Happy are they who weep for they shall receive the spirit of rejoicing. And I’ve never understood what that meant more than today.”
Jim Travis, surrounded by family, laid his brother Guy to rest on October 22 next to their parents at Lakeland Hills Memorial Park in Burnet, Texas.
They had put a marker out there for Guy in the late 1980s, never expecting his remains would ever be found.
Jim said he’s a private person, but he wanted to share this story because, as he put it, the world needs more stories of people being compassionate and generous and caring.
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