Authorities tracing remains found in remote areas of Arizona

December 29, 2020 GMT
In this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, photo provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, authorities investigate the discovery of body parts northwest of Prescott, Ariz. Authorities believe the remains are connected to a medical institution and could have been used for education or research. (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office via AP)
In this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, photo provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, authorities investigate the discovery of body parts northwest of Prescott, Ariz. Authorities believe the remains are connected to a medical institution and could have been used for education or research. (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office via AP)
In this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, photo provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, authorities investigate the discovery of body parts northwest of Prescott, Ariz. Authorities believe the remains are connected to a medical institution and could have been used for education or research. (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office via AP)
In this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, photo provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, authorities investigate the discovery of body parts northwest of Prescott, Ariz. Authorities believe the remains are connected to a medical institution and could have been used for education or research. (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office via AP)
In this Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, photo provided by the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office, authorities investigate the discovery of body parts northwest of Prescott, Ariz. Authorities believe the remains are connected to a medical institution and could have been used for education or research. (Yavapai County Sheriff's Office via AP)

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Authorities in central Arizona are working to identify several body parts that were found in remote areas while scouring the landscape to determine if there are more, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

A woodcutter on Saturday found one set of remains near Prescott, which is about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of Phoenix. A hunter discovered other remains at a separate site northwest of Prescott, said sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn.

“We are as baffled as anyone else, when we got the news the next day that additional remains were found,” he said. “We thought, ‘Well, that can’t be.’ But sure enough, there they are. And two separate reporting parties who have no connection to another.”

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The remains were in plain sight and believed to be connected to a medical institution, authorities said. They could have been used for education or research, based on tags that were found with some of the body parts, D’Evelyn said. White absorbent pads with blue trim also were found at both locations, he said.

The sheriff’s office wouldn’t say what types of body parts were found but said they appear to have been dumped recently.

The medical examiner’s office is working to identify them and trace their origins. In the meantime, authorities are using drones and police dogs to search the two areas that are a few miles apart, D’Evelyn said.

Under Arizona law, it’s a felony to knowingly move body parts to abandon or conceal them.

“It doesn’t appear to be homicide, but we’re always going to work by default under those circumstances so we can get the most evidence,” D’Evelyn said.

Authorities are asking hunters to check their game cameras for any video that might help them determine how the body parts ended up in the areas. They’re also asking the public to reach out to the sheriff’s office with any information related to the case.