After an exhaustive three-year search for Telluride High School graduate Robin Putnam that included coverage by a national missing persons television program and daily pleas for information by his parents Cindy and Doug, law enforcement authorities announced over the weekend that his body was found in Elko County, Nevada.

Robin Putnam vanished in 2012 during a train ride from the San Francisco Bay Area to Grand Junction, where his parents were waiting for him. He boarded an Amtrak train in Emeryville, California on July 8, 2012 and was seen getting off the train in Salt Lake City at 3 a.m. the next day during a scheduled stop, leaving his laptop and a journal behind. He never got back on the train, and was never seen again. He was 25 when he vanished.

Amtrak Police, the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Putnam family launched an intensive search for Robin after Doug and Cindy were left waiting on the train platform on the morning of July 9, 2012. He was entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Database, and law enforcement agencies from several states joined in the search. 

His case was featured on the Investigation Discovery series “Last Seen Alive,” which followed the Putnams over a five-day search in New York City, where they thought he might have ended up. They also searched extensively in Salt Lake City and received tips from throughout the U.S. from kind strangers who desperately wanted to help find Robin.

On Monday, police in Elko County, Nevada announced that Union Pacific Railroad employees were working on train tracks in the desert when they found human remains. Dental records confirmed that the body belonged to Robin Putnam. A debit card and set of keys with Robin’s name on them were found nearby, officials said.

“It is with a broken heart that I need to let you all know that the authorities have informed us that Robin’s remains have been found in a remote area of eastern Nevada. I would appreciate that no one speculates about what happened, as there is no known cause or manner of death at this time. I will post more details when we know more. Thank you all for your love and support,” Cindy Putnam wrote on the Facebook page “Robin Putnam, Find Home” that she created during the search for her son.

Her son’s remains were discovered roughly 15 miles south of the town of Wells, which is 180 miles from Salt Lake City. An exact cause and time of death are still being determined, according to Elko County and San Miguel County law enforcement.

“This has been a long and painful struggle for the Putnams, who never gave up,” San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters said in a press release confirming Robin’s death. Masters and Dolores County Sheriff Jerry Martin brought the news to the Putnams at their home in Rico after Masters was informed by Elko County officials of the positive identification of remains.

Robin Putnam was born on April 4, 1987 in St. Louis County, Missouri and moved to Rico with his family in 1999. He graduated from Telluride High School in 2005 and had completed his junior year at the California College of the Arts in Oakland when he disappeared.

Robin Putnam is survived by his parents, Doug and Cindy, and his extended family. He will be remembered as a creative young man who excelled in drawing, painting and writing about and researching anything related to the fine arts, animation, science, philosophy and spirituality.

The Putnam family will be hosting a memorial service for Robin on Sept. 18 at 11 a.m. at the top of the gondola in Telluride. A reception at Alpine Chapel will follow. The family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Free the Children, a sustainable development charity that works to eradicate poverty across the globe  and was Robin’s favorite charitable organization.