A body found in the Mendocino County California forest was identified as David Neily. The California native had been missing for over 15 years. Police are actively investigating the case while some close to Neily believe that foul play could be involved.

In May 2020, partial remains were found by a private forester’s employee in a secluded area of Branscomb, Calif. DNA was extracted and based on dental records, the body was later ID’ed as 69-year-old David Neily. According to initial reports, there appeared to be no trauma to the body.

David Neily was last seen in 2006 and his family officially reported him missing in July of that year. According to his loved ones, he had been last seen by them in Albion, Calif. a couple months before. The man was known for not contacting his family for long periods of time.

“David has a history of Mental Illness. David has a history of being out of contact with family members for extended periods of time. He was last known to be in the Fort Bragg and Westport, CA areas,” said a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office report.

David Neily went missing back in 2006. His body was just identified in the California forest. (Credit: Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office)
David Neily went missing back in 2006. His body was just identified in the California forest. (Credit: Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office)

After his initial disappearance, Neily’s cars were found in an area of Westport, Calif., about 33 miles from his residence. His body was later found about three miles away from where his cars were found 15 years earlier.

The man’s daughter, Lisa Neily, has actively run a missing persons Facebook page for her father since his disappearance. She reported that his body was finally identified yesterday. According to her, she believes that there was some sort of foul play involved with her father’s death.

She said, “I love you dad and I’m so sorry. Ryan & I are not convinced foul play wasn’t involved.”

The daughter later spoke to AP News and said, “We’re not giving up hope that we can find out what happened to him. We’re not giving up.”

In 2014, it was suspected that David Neily’s disappearance had something to do with the missing case of Donald Cavanaugh. Both men went missing in the California area and had a connection to the same horse farm in Westport.

According to reports, both men worked for James DeNoyer, who was the owner of the farm and Cavanaugh’s nephew. Reports say that Cavanaugh, who went missing in 2005, was last seen picking up his belongings from the ranch when DeNoyer accused him of stealing money.

Neily was also last seen picking up his car from the same location and DeNoyer accused him of alerting authorities to the poor conditions that he kept his animals in. The ranch owner was later charged with 36 counts of animal cruelty after 36 sick horses were removed from his property.

Ryan Neily, David Neily’s son and also a former worker at the ranch, spoke to the horses’ conditions after his father went missing and DeNoyer was charged. He said, “Jim never lifted a finger to care for the horses. While I was there, five horses died, the first one a baby. Jim never called the vet, and we had 22 horses at the time. I’d say to him, ‘Please walk around and look at your horses.’ He ignored me. He wouldn’t put any money into vets or shelter for them … The horses were supposed to be wormed every six months. He only wormed them once that I know of.”

James DeNoyer denied all connection to the two missing cases back in 2006. With the new police investigation it is unclear if officers will look into DeNoyer as a person of interest again.

Anyone with information about the case should contact the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 463-4086.