Dig for California student missing 20 years yields remains

Posted at 10:10 AM, Sep 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-10 10:10:02-04

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) -- Remains were found during a three-day excavation looking for a California college student missing for more than 20 years but it may take months before officials know if they're human, authorities said Friday.

FBI agents and local sheriff's deputies searched three hillside locations on the campus of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, said Tony Cipolla, a spokesman for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.

Cipolla said various items of interest turned up in all three spots, including remains that will need to be tested to determine if they're animal or human.

The testing will be done by forensic anthropologists at the FBI's headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, he said.

The campus halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco is the last place 19-year-old Kristin Smart was seen alive.

A male student said he dropped Smart off near her dormitory on May 25, 1996, after an off-campus party. He is considered a person of interest but has never been arrested or charged.

A lead developed by investigators over the past two years "strongly suggested" that Smart's remains might be buried on the hillside near a large concrete letter "P'' that is the school's landmark, the Sheriff's Office announced when digging began Tuesday.

The three locations were then targeted with the use of dogs trained to detect old human remains.

The area was searched at the time of Smart's disappearance, along with most of the rest of the campus.

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