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Police say bones found near Phoenix are remains of missing boy

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PHOENIX — Bones found in a Phoenix suburb a few weeks ago were that of a boy who had been missing for nearly two years, police said Tuesday.

The Buckeye Police Department said the remains were found on a farm in Buckeye near State Route 85 and Broadway Road. That was about six miles from the home of 10-year-old Jesse Wilson, who went missing in July 2016.

“From the moment he disappeared through today, the Buckeye community has joined together in solidarity to help bring Jesse home by dedicating countless hours volunteering, searching, and praying,” a police statement said.

“We in law enforcement have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for Jesse and are eternally grateful for the continued assistance.”

Buckeye Detective Tamela Skaggs said the remains were found in multiple areas on the farm. It was not clear how long the remains were there.

That area was searched in the summer of 2016, but was covered by water at the time, according to Skaggs.

“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.

FBI agent Lance Leising said the agency is helping Buckeye police investigators with additional interviewers, evidence experts and strategy advice.

The statement did not indicate if police had a suspect, only that the investigation would continue. Police said they are investigating the situation as a homicide.

“The Buckeye Police Department, along with our state and federal partners, will continue to pursue this investigation until its conclusion,” it said. “We believe this case will be resolved as Jesse deserves nothing less.”

Police treated it as a runaway case because the boy’s adoptive mother told investigators that he suffered from “learning and developmental issues” and was taking medication for it. She said he had slipped out of his second-floor bedroom window overnight in the past.

Several fields near his home were searched in the months after his disappearance. Drones and tracking dogs were also used.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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