"cautiously optimistic" remains discovered in West Bexar County on Thursday will allow them to bring their search for missing woman Andreen McDonald to a close.
The remains, burned beyond recognition, were found in an area of brush off of Highway 211 between Culebra and Bandera roads, according to a report from KSAT. Deputy Johnny Garcia, public information officer for the Sheriff's Office, said the burns are so severe that authorities are unable to identify what gender the person was.
"At this time, we just have bones," Garcia told the news station.
Later on Thursday, investigators searched the area using cadaver dogs and a drone. The search is expected to continue Friday to determine whose body was burned.
However, news of the discovery prompted the arrival of volunteer search groups dedicated to finding McDonald, who was reported missing March 1.
"I think this is her," Melinda Pennell, a volunteer who had organized community searches, told KSAT. "The circumstances I don't like. I mean, to find a burned body — who does that? It's just beyond inhumane."
Volunteers, as well as the Sheriff's Office, had spent time searching near McDonald's home in North Bexar County as well as near Camp Bullis, where her husband Andre McDonald, an Air Force Reserve major, had gone soon after the disappearance.
Authorities said Andreen McDonald disappeared under suspicious circumstances and suspect her husband is responsible. He was released from custody at Bexar County Jail on Tuesday and was then turned over to the military.
Despite warning that it is too early to verify if the remains belong to the missing woman, Sheriff Javier Salazar said he is "hopeful" that they're close to solving the disappearance. Salazar said it could take weeks or even months to identify the remains.
"We've been working like crazy to get some closure for Andreen's family," Salazar said. "We're hoping that this is her."
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