The remains of three young children have been found in Montana, igniting speculation in Michigan that the remains are those of three young brothers who disappeared in 2010.
After a tenant was evicted from a rental property in Missoula, Montana, the landlord hired professional cleaners to tidy up the place. While working in the backyard on Sept. 27, the cleaning crew discovered a box of human bones in the shed.
"Loose teeth, there was what appeared to be bone from a lower jaw, and others that were not as specifically described, but I would call them pieces of bone," said Missoula police spokesman Sgt. Travis Welsh, according to KPAX. "There were also rocks, in this box."
An anthropologist estimated the bones belonged to three children between the ages of 2 to 4, 5 to 8, and 6 to 10.
Police began working with the National Center for Missing and Endangered Children to determine where the bones came from.
"The thing is, there are missing children all over the world," Welsh said. "And the thing is, we don't know that this particular case is isolated to the city of Missoula. We don't know where the bones came from, and if they were transported from one are to another, and ended up here."
But police in Michigan think they may know where the bones came from. They contacted Missoula police and shared their theory that the bones may belong to Tanner, Alexander and Andrew Skelton, three brothers who went missing seven years ago at the ages of 5, 7 and 9.
"[Michigan State Police] investigators are working with Missoula police to determine if there is any connection to Andrew, Alexander and Tanner Skelton," the agency said in a press release, according to The Detroit News. "There has been nothing previously reported to police linking the brothers to Montana, and it is not known at this time if the remains are from related siblings."
"Further forensic testing has been requested by police in Montana that may provide more answers," the release continued. "Until this testing is completed and additional investigation by law enforcement in Montana occurs, it cannot be determined if these remains belong to the missing Skelton brothers."
The brothers were last seen at their father's house the day after Thanksgiving 2010. Their parents Tanya Zuvers and John Skelton were divorcing; Zuvers had full custody, but allowed the boys to spend Thanksgiving with Skelton, according to The Washington Post. When Skelton didn't bring the boys back as promised, Zuvers called police.
Skelton told police he gave the boys to an unknown organization to protect them from their mother. He never named the people who allegedly took the children and was sentenced to 10 to 15 years in prison for unlawful imprisonment, according to The Detroit News.
Zuvers posted a statement on Facebook after learning of the discovery in Montana.
"This information has just been presented to our family within the last several hours," she wrote. "We are processing it and hope that we will have answers soon. We are thankful for all your thoughts and prayers."
Sources: KPAX, The Detroit News, Tanya Zuvers/Facebook, The Washington Post / Featured Image: Rept0n1x/Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: KPAX, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children/AP via The Detroit News