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Remains found in Montana may belong to missing Kentucky seminary student

By: Andy Cunningham Email
By: Andy Cunningham Email

Bone fragments and clothing found in Glacier National Park in Montana are being analyzed to see if they belong to a Kentucky seminary student who disappeared three years ago.

Yi Jien Hwa hasn't been seen since August 2008. He was 27 years old at the time.

Investigators say last month, a hiker in the park found a portion of two items of clothing that match what Hwa was last seen wearing.

Hwa was a student at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, and a youth group leader at Lexington's Chinese Christian Church.

"He was like a father to me, he taught me so many things, and he just meant a lot to me," said Ke Niu.

Niu was in Hwa's youth group for several years.

"The last three years have been very rough on all of us," said Niu.

Other youth group members say the news his remains may have been found is in a way, welcome news.

"We just want some type of closure and help give him the proper burial he deserves," said Jonathan Lau.

Lau said Hwa was his favorite youth group leader and brought everyone together.

"He really knew how to help people, especially when we were going through a difficult time," he said.

Originally from Malaysia, Hwa moved here with his wife to attend Asbury Theological Seminary. Staff members also remember Hwa, as a giving and wonderful young man.

"He really was a wonderful young man," said J.D. Walt.

Walt is the Vice President for Community Life at the Seminary.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family right now," he said.

Rangers believe water and avalanches over the years, caused the bone fragments and Hwa's belongings to slide down slope.

The recovery efforts continue.

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