EAST DUBUQUE, Illinois - Human remains have been found in a wooded area behind the East Dubuque home where missing teenager Chyenne Kircher is believed to be buried, investigators said in a news conference Friday morning.
Officials were searching for the body of Kircher, who disappeared in October 2011. The search focused on a wooded area behind the home where her mother and stepfather live. Her stepfather, Terry Abbas, is accused of strangling Chyenne. Abbas, 40, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with two counts of murder.
"At this time, we have no reason to believe anyone but Terry Abbas was involved in this homicide," Jo Daviess County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Hachmeister said at Friday's news conference.
Investigators would not say that the remains were Chyenne's, and continue to work with the remains at the scene. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday, Hachmeister said.
Other charges may be filed in the case as the investigation unfolds, Hachmeister said.
Chyenne disappeared in October 2011, and her case was originally treated as a missing persons case. At the time, officials said Chyenne had left a note indicating she was running away from home.
The case was re-evaluated in March at the request of East Dubuque Police Chief Steve O'Connell, and since then, investigators have pursued numerous tips nationwide, including leads from Texas, Wisconsin, Alaska, Florida and Iowa, Hachmeister said.
More than a dozen law enforcement officers were at the home Thursday participating in search and excavation efforts.
"We have reason to believe that her body is located at a location right in town by her home," Jo Daviess County Sheriff's Deputy Dave Hachmeister said. "We are, at this point, doing some excavation with Illinois State Police and FBI evidence technicians."
Hachmeister said that the process was "running a bit slow and behind schedule." Storms Thursday afternoon and evening also slowed the search.
"Part of the reason it's taking so long is because it's very methodical, painstaking work," said an FBI agent involved in the search. "We want to make sure that we do it thoroughly, properly and cover all of our policies and procedures."