Remains identified as man, 41, who was missing since summer

A member of the OPP protects the integrity of a suspected crime scene where human remains were discovered on a Mall Drive property at Jackson Side Road in Tillsonburg on Jan. 2. It is unclear whether the remains were found in the corn field or an adjacent wood lot. Derek Ruttan/Postmedia Network jpg, DN

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Police have identified the remains found New Year’s Eve in a rural field on the outskirts of Tillsonburg as an Oxford County man reported missing in August.

Oxford OPP said the body found on Mall Road near Jackson Sideroad in Tillsonburg was 41-year-old James Blakley of South-West Oxford.

Blakley was last seen on Aug. 30 getting into a cab headed for Tillsonburg.

Police said on Jan. 2 that the “circumstances” surrounding Blakley’s death were “deemed non-suspicious.”

Neighbours along this stretch of roadway had seen little in the days since police announced the grim discovery. While surprised and apprehensive in the wake of this unsettling news, neighbours reported noticing nothing more than a heightened police presence along this country road in recent days.

A forensics team scoured the scene of the discovery after Oxford County OPP officers were called around 5 p.m. on Dec. 31 about the discovery of human remains. An OPP cruiser remained parked in a cornfield next to a wooded area last Thursday afternoon.

Homes on this long, rural stretch of road that stretches from the Tillsonburg Cemetery to Highway 59 are frequently broken up by fields and forested areas.

Police initially deemed Blakley’s disappearance as suspicious.

In early November, police searched a home on Verna Drive in Tillsonburg in connection with the case, gathering evidence for “later analysis.”