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Human remains found near Ione

Human remains found Saturday, Nov. 30 by deer hunters on Walker Mountain in the French Prairie area near Ione are believed to be those of a woman reported missing five years ago, according to Logan County Sheriff Steve Smith.

The remains have been sent to the Arkansas Crime Lab for analysis and were found shortly after noon.

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say we suspect it’s Kelli Renee Rice,” Smith said. “She been missing since March 2, 2008.”

Smith said he has notified Rice’s family members, who are still in the area, about the discovery.

“Of course the main thing is we’ve got to wait for a positive ID,” the Sheriff said.

Contributing to his suspicion, Smith said, is the remains, which were partial, were located in an area in close proximity to where Rice had last been seen.

“It all fits,” Smith said. “(The remains) were actually found in the same general area. That’s what baffles me, is we searched so much out there (with) so many people.”

The Sheriff would not speculate a cause of death.

“That particular year, it was snowing during that time and it was cold,” Smith said. “Hopefully (the Crime Lab) will be able to determine if there was foul play.”

Smith said searches for Rice were conducted many times.

“We’ve searched all kinds of places from stories that have gone around,” Smith said. “At the time, we spent a lot of man-hours looking for her. In cases like this, a lot of times this is how a person is found, by a deer hunter.”

Smith said the remains were found on a plateau on commercial property.

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