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Human Remains Found in NC Identified as Woman Missing Since January

Sands suffered from dementia and other medical issues.

The search for a North Carolina woman who went missing nearly a year ago has ended after officials found human remains belonging to 56-year-old Priscilla Sands near Fort Bragg. The woman’s family has since been notified.

On Thursday (Dec. 16), the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office said the remains were found off Interstate 295 nearly two months ago,  ABC 11 reported. However, details surrounding Sands’ disappearance and subsequent death are scarce, but an investigation has been launched.

The journey had been taxing on Sands’ relatives who wondered for months, “if she is alive, is she warm, is she cold. Did she eat today?” Sands’ relative Carrie Adkins told news reporters. “It’s been very hard.”

Sands, who had dementia and other health issues and was on medication, was last seen on Thursday (Jan. 7) after leaving her home in Fayetteville. She told family members that she was headed out for a doctor’s appointment and left on foot but didn’t take her wallet or phone.

Last Feb., an alert was placed after Sands never returned home. “I did a Silver Alert, and they came out here with the dogs and everything, and they had chased her scent to try and find out which way she went," Shelton Blige, Sands' son, told WRAL at the time. "After that, we've been getting billboards and posters out to get her face out there to try and get her face known.”

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This wasn’t the first time Sanders had wandered off–often ending up at places her loved ones were familiar with, like local grocery stores or a bench at the Transit Mall on Russell Street. Still, Adkins believes her relative’s race could have contributed to her recovery. “Right now, my heart -- all I can do is pray,” she said.

“I know for a fact that if she would have been a different race if they would not have thought she was homeless if they would not have thought that she was a dope addict. She would probably be alive today,” she added. Yet, many questions still linger, including how Sands’ remains arrived at the location where they were discovered.

Fort Bragg's Criminal Investigation Division Special Agent Ben Banks said in a statement his office hopes, “this can provide the family and loved ones of Ms. Sands some closure after this difficult time. We appreciate the support from the multiple law enforcement agencies who contributed to the identification of Ms. Sands.”

Sands’ remains are currently being reviewed by a medical examiner as the investigation is ongoing.

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