Deputies say remains found in Union County, South Carolina, have been positively identified as missing woman Jessica Ashmore.
The skeletal remains were found on December 16, 2019, by crews who were planting trees in an area about 2.5 miles off Jeffries Farm Road, Union County Sheriff David Taylor said in a press conference Tuesday evening.
Sheriff Taylor described the area where the remains were found as “the middle of nowhere” and said deputies had to bring in special equipment to cut a path in order to get down to the scene.
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According to Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Coroner’s Office, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) used DNA testing to confirm that the remains belonged to the 34-year-old mother of two. There was a 99.7% positive match that the remains were those of Jessica, authorities added.
Sheriff Taylor said the investigation is ongoing by the Union County Coroner's Office, Sheriff's Office and SLED, and that the investigation is "criminally suspicious."
Jessica’s mother, Angel Ashmore, who spoke to Dateline in June 2019, said Jessica was last seen around lunchtime on May 19, at the family property in Jonesville, South Carolina, with her half-brother and a couple of other family members. Jessica was living in a mobile home on the property at the time.
Authorities said Jessica and her half-brother had a disagreement in the driveway and she walked away on foot. She did not take her cell phone or any money with her.
Her mother said the road she was walking along is a rural, country road with few houses. The family told Dateline they believed Jessica was going on a walk and would be back soon.
But Jessica never returned.
Jessica was reported missing on May 25, 2019. Authorities scoured the surrounding areas with the help of drones, volunteers, members of the Union County Rescue Squad, and four cadaver dogs from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
According to Sheriff Taylor, the case continues to be actively investigated by the sheriff's and coroner's offices, SLED and the FBI.
"Throughout this investigation, we have been fortunate enough to reveal both circumstantial, as well as physical, evidence,” Sheriff Taylor said. “We have called upon the assistance from specific and scientific professionals to assist in all aspects surrounding this case. The only thing this does for this case is put an identity on the remains. The case is still being actively investigated."
If you have any information on Jessica’s disappearance, please call the Union County Sheriff’s Office at (864) 429-1611. You can also contact Crime Stoppers by submitting a tip on http://www.p3tips.com or by calling 1-888-CRIME-SC.