- Associated Press - Thursday, October 1, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - DNA tests have shown that a skull found at a Utah lake nearly two decades ago was that of a 4-year-old boy killed in Reno, Nevada, authorities said.

Cold case investigators confirmed the remains found in 1996 were those of Rene Romero, who died about two years earlier, according to the Juab County Sheriff’s Office.

The remains had been listed as an unidentified missing person.

Nevada authorities searched for the boy after discovering in 1994 that his two younger brothers had been cut with a knife, hit with a belt and forced to eat their own feces.

The younger children, then 2 and 3, had moved to Burbank, California, with the family shortly before the abuse was discovered. Police also learned there had been a third child who disappeared shortly before the family left Reno.

One of the younger boys told police that he had last seen Rene in the kitchen of their Nevada apartment, and his brother fell to the floor after his mother gave him two drinks.

She wrapped Rene up and told her younger son she was taking him to a doctor, but police found no record of medical treatment.

Even though Rene was missing, prosecutors charged his mother Ana Romero and stepfather Alvaro Ortiz in the child’s death. They were convicted, and Ortiz is serving a life sentence. Romero is on parole, Utah authorities said.

Rene Romero’s remains were found about 84 miles south of Salt Lake City.

He was one of two unidentified people whose remains were discovered in Juab County but remained unidentified for decades until investigators completed new DNA tests, the sheriff’s office said a news release Wednesday.

The other case involved 33-year-old Marilee Bruszer, whose remains were found in 1978, shortly after she disappeared from Long Beach, California. The remains were also identified using new DNA testing.

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