Police in Arizona have opened a homicide investigation after the skeletal remains of a 10-year-old boy, who has been missing since 2016, were found in an irrigation ditch just miles from where he lived.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Buckeye Detective Tamela Skaggs revealed the remains found off of State Highway 85 on March 8 belonged to Jesse Wilson. Skaggs said investigators are currently unable to determine if there was foul play or the cause of death, but the case will still be treated as a homicide, reported the New York Post.
“Any time we have a case with a dead body we will investigate that as a homicide,” she said.
Investigators are not sure how long Wilson’s remains were in the area. When Wilson first went missing in the summer of 2016, the area was searched, but was covered by water at the time.
“There is the weather we have to consider and landscape, animal activity,” she said. “All those things come into play with that specific desert area.”
Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall said the discovery of Wilson’s remains was the “worst outcome we could possibly imagine.”
“I wish I could say it’s closure but it’s not because we haven’t found the person responsible,” he said.
Wilson was first reported missing on the morning of July 18, 2016. When police first began their investigation, they treated his disappeared as a runaway because Wilson’s adoptive mother, Crystal Wilson, told investigators that he suffered from “learning and developmental issues” and was taking medication. Crystal told police he had slipped out of his second-floor bedroom window overnight in the past.
The FBI, Buckeye Police and Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office personnel searched for the boy for weeks following his disappearance. Drones, U.S. Border Patrol tracking dogs and citizen volunteers were used in the search.
According to FBI agent Lance Leising, the agency is helping Buckeye police with the investigation.
(Photo: D-Keine/Getty Images)