- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

PHOENIX (AP) - Remains of a small child discovered in the ground at a construction site appear to be infant-sized, police said Wednesday.

The remains found Tuesday afternoon at a home construction site appeared “like a preemie or infant,” said Sgt. Vince Lewis, a Police Department spokesman.

Police were trying to identity the child and determine when and how he or she died, but Lewis said that could require extensive investigation.

Lewis said it appeared the remains “had been there for some time.”

Following the discovery, investigators continued working at the site Tuesday evening, sifting through dirt and photographing the scene.

Area residents said the property had been vacant and fenced for many years.

The site was once owned by a church and for a time was used as a soccer field but had not been in use for years, residents said.

Recently, a developer bought the site to build homes.

People began leaving stuffed animals and candles in an impromptu memorial on a fence near the site.

The discovery of the remains immediately triggered speculation about several high-profile missing child cases in the Phoenix.

However, those children were significantly older than infants when they went missing.

The cases included Jesse Wilson, a 10-year-old Buckeye boy reported missing in July 2016, and 5-year-old Jhessye Shockley, a Glendale girl who disappeared in 2011, Her mother, Jerice Hunter, is serving a life term on a murder conviction.

“There are thousands of open missing persons cases as well as unidentified bodies in Arizona. Each new find has potential for closing one of those open cases,” Lewis said.

The site is near North 87th Avenue and West Indian School Road.

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