An Ohio woman searching for her lost dog in the woods ended up stumbling upon a grisly discovery: the skeletal remains of a woman missing since 2017, police said.
The remains were discovered Aug. 26 in a wooded area along Thorn Hill Road on the East Side of Youngstown, Ohio, about 10 miles west of the Pennsylvania line, police said.
The pet owner took the remains home and called authorities, who launched an investigation and transported the bones to the coroner's office.
Youngstown police announced Tuesday that the remains were identified as those of Amy Nicole Hambrick, who vanished from Youngstown’s West Side in November 2017 at age 29.
Hambrick would have been 34 Thursday.
Identifying the remains was no easy task. The bones were assembled by Dr. Loren Lease of Youngstown State University’s anthropology department. At first the team determined that the bones belonged to a human female. Then, using dental records, it determined from the jawbone and teeth from the recovered skull that the remains belonged to Hambrick, police said.
Police Capt. Jason Simon said Hambrick was last known to be meeting up at a friend’s house in North Jackson but never made it.
Several law enforcement agencies had worked with Hambrick’s family to locate her.
“Every investigative avenue was utilized over the last five years, including countless interviews, searches of residences, the use of cadaver dogs and the serving of legal process on digital and cellular records,” Simon said, noting that the case eventually went cold.
Her family had desperately searched for her for five long years. Several of Hambrick's relatives were at the news conference but did not speak.
Even though Hambrick's remains have been found, questions persist about exactly when she died and how she ended up in the woods.
The investigation continues, and the cause of death will be listed as undetermined given the condition of her remains, Simon said.
Simon asked for the public's help with information about her last whereabouts.
“At least one person knows what happened to her,” he said. “We’re asking to speak to either that individual, because clearly there’s a side of the story here, or anyone that has information about her discovery.”
Simon extended his condolences to Hambrick's family and friends, reassuring the public that investigations into missing loved ones continue even after leads grow cold.
“These cases are always challenging, but they are never forgotten about," he said.