- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

STE. GENEVIEVE, Mo. (AP) - An eastern Missouri sheriff said Wednesday he believes skeletal remains found on the rural property of a woman who has been missing since 2014 are hers, though he acknowledges formal identification could take weeks.

St. Genevieve County Sheriff Gary Stolzer said during a news conference that a pathologist will examine the remains found Tuesday night by Lynn Messer’s son as he scouted for a deer-hunting spot.

There was no immediate determination about a cause of death, and the sheriff did not elaborate about why he suspects the remains are those of Messer. Stolzer did not return messages left Wednesday by The Associated Press.

“At this time we believe it is (Messer), but that is not going to be confirmed for quite some time,” Stolzer told area media outlets. But Messer’s family “will at least be able to lay her to rest. That’s part of closure.”

“Everybody wants to know what happened,” he added. “We may never know.”

Messer was 52 in July 2014 when she was reported missing from a 250-acre family farm near Bloomsdale, in eastern Missouri.

Her husband is Kerry Messer, a 57-year-old Jefferson City lobbyist and the Missouri Family Network’s president. Messer, who also did not return AP messages Wednesday, told the Daily Journal of Park Hills that “right now we are trying to hold ourselves together while we wait for the confirmation, which we suspect is going to be what we fear.”

Noting that the location of the remains was an area that had been previously searched, Kerry Messer added: “Over the last two-plus years I have seen numerous stories of the remains of missing persons being found in the exact same spots where they searched with dogs years before. This is going to possibly be one of those cases.”

Last year, Kerry Messer began an effort to have hunters watch out for things such as small personal items that could be clues in missing person investigations.

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