Remains of 10-year-old boy missing since 2016 found in Arizona desert: Police

PHOTO: Jesse Wilson is pictured in this undated photo released by police in 2016 after he disappeared.PlayBuckeye Police Department
WATCH Remains of 10-year-old boy missing since 2016 found in Arizona desert: Police

Authorities in Arizona have located the remains of a 10-year-old boy who went missing from his home in 2016.

Buckeye Police Det. Tamela Skaggs announced Tuesday that remains found in a desert area were determined to be those of Jesse Wilson, who disappeared from his family home in Sundance, near Buckeye, in the early morning hours of July 18, 2016.

On March 8, an employee of the City of Buckeye discovered the partial human remains and reported them to law enforcement, Skaggs said in a press conference. Additional remains were found after a subsequent search of the area.

The area where the remains were found -- near State Route Highway 85 and Broadway Road -- had previously been underwater, which may explain why cadaver dogs did not locate them when they previously searched the area, said Buckeye Police Chief Larry Hall.

Several remains were found scattered throughout the area, but it is unclear how long the remains were in the area for or what condition they were found in, Skaggs said. DNA from Jesse Wilson's father was used to link it to the missing boy.

Investigators are now trying to determine the cause of death and when the remains got to the location.

The boy's mother, Crystal Wilson, is out of the state but has been notified of the findings, Skaggs said. She, nor anyone else, has been ruled out as a suspect, Skaggs said.

Jesse's siblings remain under the care of foster parents, Skaggs said.

Members of the police department were "devastated" by the news, Skaggs said, adding that the homicide investigation is not over and that police are still accepting tips from the public.

"While this is not the outcome of which we hoped [for], we want to stress that this is not the end of this investigation," Skaggs said. "We believe this case will be resolved, and Jesse deserves nothing less."

Hundreds of volunteers joined in the search for the boy after police reported him missing. In 2016, ABC Phoenix affiliate KNXV reported that he left his home through a bedroom window.

Police described Jesse as a "bright, energetic and caring young man who was well-liked by his friends and teachers."

The FBI is assisting in the investigation.

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