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Remains found in New Mexico may be those of dad, daughter with Hall County ties
Crystal Tuggle and Jim Chatman went missing at park in 2002
Crystal Tuggle

The skeletal remains of two people with Hall County ties may have been found in New Mexico, an Albuquerque, N.M., TV station reported Wednesday.

The National Park Service is working with New Mexico State Police to identify the remains found Tuesday afternoon near El Malpais National Monument in Grants, N.M., according to the station, KOB.

The remains were found in an area where Jim Chatman, 46, and his 20-year-old daughter, Crystal Tuggle, both of Albuquerque, vanished while hiking together eight years ago.

The park contains 144,000 acres, including forests and a 100,000-acre lava field.

Lt. Eric Garcia, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, said that judging by the scene where the remains were found, authorities don't believe foul play was involved.

However, the investigation is continuing and if homicide is ever suspected, positive identification of the remains will be given more urgency by the state's Office of the Medical Investigator.

Garcia said the National Park Service was "going to apprise the families of the missing father and daughter" of the discovery.

Dana Sullivan, chief ranger at El Malpais, couldn't be reached for comment.

Tuggle is the stepgranddaughter of Anne Madison of Hall County.

Madison, reflecting on the discovery of the remains, said, "On one hand, it's the end of hope and on the other, at least we know.

"At least, it gets rid of the nightmare imaginings of all the horrible things that could have happened - those are out of the picture."

The father and daughter were taking an afternoon hike on June 20, 2002, in the remote area when they disappeared, according to news reports. A massive search involving National Guard helicopters, heat-sensing devices and ground searchers failed to find the two.

Tuggle and Chatman moved to New Mexico in 1990 with Rebecca Tuggle, Crystal's mother. A memorial service was held for Crystal later in the summer of 2002 in Dahlonega.