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Sam Penrod, KSL TV

Remains found in American Fork Canyon identified as missing Utah woman

By Ashley Imlay, KSL | Updated - Apr 17th, 2019 @ 5:13pm | Posted - Apr 17th, 2019 @ 4:06pm


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SPANISH FORK — Spontaneous and adventurous, Jerika Binks "could pack bails of hay, just like any of us boys could," her brother said.

"She would make you laugh, and some of the things that she would do, it would just drive you nuts to know how wild she was, very athletic, very strong," Jed Alvey, one of Binks' seven siblings, recalled Wednesday.

He met with sheriff's officials, who announced the remains found in a ravine on American Fork Canyon were positively identified as Jerika Binks. On Sunday, a hiker discovered them in the rugged area and alerted police.

On Binks' adventuring in the steep terrain, her brother said that he "wouldn't expect anything less" from her than "being outgoing and wanting to be out in the mountains."

Binks, 24, was last seen leaving a residential treatment center near 300 North and 1100 East in American Fork about 9 a.m. on Feb. 18, 2018. She told her roommates she planned to go running, according to the Utah County Sheriff's Office. She hadn't been seen since.

Sheriff Mike Smith said her remains showed evidence of a severe broken shinbone and calf bone and foul play is not suspected. There wasn't cell service in the area where she was found, Sgt. Spencer Cannon has said.

The sheriff's office is waiting to learn an official cause of death from the State Medical Examiner.

"She had had some struggles with addiction, but she was meeting the challenge and had risen above that. And she had a bright outlook for her future and was looking forward to a future of work and school, and all those things," Cannon said.

The discovery came after the hundreds of hours search and rescue crews and volunteers spent looking for her.

"Some people think that we kinda had a year, you know, to grieve a little bit about it. But that's not the case. It hit my family just like it happened yesterday. But it was relieving, too, at the same time, to know that we at least get to bring her home," Alvey said of learning her remains had been found.

He thanked the community for its "love and support" throughout the ordeal.

After her disappearance, family members and volunteers continued searching for Binks and shared periodic updates on a Facebook page titled "Finding Jerika," which had amassed thousands of followers.

Surveillance photos released by the family in May raised new questions about her disappearance. A National Park Service stop-motion activated camera captured her running down a closed part of the National Timpanogos Cave Trail in American Fork Canyon at 1:30 p.m. The family did not believe, however, that Binks was still in that area. Officials spent hours searching the area, as did volunteers with drones.

The family believed foul play might have been involved in her disappearance, according to posts on the page.

"Our Jerika is a fighter and has an incredible stamina and was very experienced in canyons and hiking trials, but accidents do happen and anything can happen to anyone, she did not go out running every day naive to what could happen in today’s world," family members wrote in November.

The family plans to reach out to the man who found her remains to thank him, Alvey said.

Correction: A previous version misspelled the name of a Facebook page providing updates about the search for Jerika Binks as "Finding Jerica." The correct name is "Finding Jerika."

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