A Virginia medical examiner is working to identify human remains found in the search for missing college freshman Anjelica "AJ" Hadsell, who disappeared in early March while home for spring break.
The remains were found Thursday morning beside an abandoned house located south of Franklin, near Virginia's border with North Carolina, according to The Virginia-Pilot. The 18-year-old's family gathered at their Norfolk home while police continued the investigation.
"We're just praying that all of this is resolved swiftly, and we're just trying to work together as a family," Timothy Moran, a minister who is close to the family, told the newspaper on their behalf.
Hadsell, a freshman at Longwood University, was last seen on March 2 at her parent's home in Norfolk's Tarrallton neighborhood.
The missing persons case took a bizarre turn a couple weeks later when her stepfather, Wesley Hadsell, was arrested on burglary and obstruction charges after breaking into a man's home. Hadsell, initially reported to be the teen's father, said the man was involved in AJ's disappearance and that he found her jacket hidden inside his couch.
Norfolk police did not initially suspect foul play was involved in the teen's disappearance. Multiple searches were conducted and police carried on the investigation until it led them to a small, decrepit brick house over 50 miles from Anjelica Hadsell's home, The Virginia-Pilot reported.
Authorities searched the property on Wednesday but did not find anything. On Thursday at around 10 a.m., remains were found in an area of tall grass next to the property.
Police are now combing a wooded area behind the house for anything related to the remains.
"We'll be out here for a couple days," Norfolk Police Department spokesman Sam Shenouda told the newspaper. "The property is overgrown, mostly wooded. They're literally going to be combing through every inch of this property searching for evidence."