MISSOULA — Two hikers huckleberry picking near Lookout Pass came across human remains confirmed by the Mineral County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday.
Mineral County Sheriff Mike Toth believes the remains belong to two missing Washington people from 2017.
The remains were located in a mountainous area near the Idaho state line near a rest stop.
Once deputies confirmed the remains Wednesday, the Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI) assisted the county in securing the crime scene and recovering the remains.
The remains were transported to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula Thursday morning where DNA evidence will likely be used to identify the victim or victims.
Mineral County officials received a call from Issaquah, Washington in December of 2017 alerting them of possible missing persons in the county.
Deputies responded to an abandoned vehicle matching the description of the missing people at the Dena Mora Rest Stop and found snow covering the vehicle.
A search was conducted by Mineral County Search and Rescue with help from Sanders County and Kootenai County in Idaho.
Authorities were not able to locate the individuals at the time, or in a separate springtime search, according to Sheriff Toth.
According to Sheriff Toth, authorities believed the individuals may have committed suicide due to a letter that was mailed to the mother by one of the victims.
Sheriff Toth told MTN News he has strong reason to believe the remains are associated with the missing persons cold case.
“We have no other missing persons out there," he said, "The time frame matches, some of the clothing that was found matches what we believe they were wearing. So, it's pointing that way."
Sheriff Toth said he has already contacted family of one of the possible victims.
"I thought, you know, they deserve to know that there's a chance that we found their child and they were thankful, and I want them to hear from us first before they saw the news," Toth said.
Conclusions from DNA evidence may take several months to be released.