Police confirm Ebby Steppach's remains found at Little Rock park

ebby steppach.JPG

Police have confirmed that human remains found at a Little Rock park Tuesday are those of a missing teenage girl.

The department said Wednesday that the Arkansas State Crime Lab had identified the remains as belonging to Ebby Steppach, who disappeared on Oct. 24, 2015.

The remains were found about 10 a.m. Tuesday in an underground drainage pipe at Chalamont Park off Arkansas 10 on the city's west side. A public works crew was then called to dig up the pipe to search for more evidence.

Chalamont Park was where Ebby's car was found after she was reported missing. She was 18 years old at the time.

Police, volunteers and officials from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children searched the park multiple times after Ebby went missing, but found no trace of the missing teen.

Investigators returned to the park Tuesday after reviewing the case and re-examining evidence, according to a statement police released Wednesday on YouTube. They used a remote-controlled robot equipped with a video camera to look inside the pipe, where they found two obstructions. Investigators then decided to excavate the area surrounding the pipe. They continued searching and found human remains inside the pipe about 10:30 a.m.

Police spokesman officer Steve Moore said police immediately notified Ebby's family about the discovery, but were not able confirm the remains were Ebby's until they were examined by the state Crime Lab.

Moore said no further details would be released on the case Wednesday.

Ebby's brother reportedly spoke to her on the phone shortly before she disappeared. He told police that Ebby sounded confused and disoriented, and that she said she was lost and didn't know where she was or who she was with. The four-minute phone call was the last time Ebby spoke to her family.

Ebby's disappearance made national headlines and led to at least one unconfirmed sighting of her outside the state.

Ebby's family had been offering a $50,000 reward for information that led to her being found. The family said in October that TJ Ward, the lead investigator in the disappearance of Alabama teen Natalee Holloway, had joined in the search for Ebby.

Ebby's family released a statement Wednesday after authorities confirmed she was dead.

"The family would like to thank all of you who have supported efforts to find Ebby," the statement says. "It has been through your support, many prayers and God's strength that they have been able to make this journey. God hears and answers all prayers. Yesterday, God answered the family's prayers to find Ebby."

The statement says a celebration of Ebby's life is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Little Rock Christian Academy at 19010 Cantrell Road.

The statement continues: "Ebby’s story over the past 30+ months has touched many lives. Many have seen the beauty in her eyes that revealed a deep passion and care for others. So, it is only fitting that the search to find Ebby has sparked open conversations and brought a heightened awareness to missing children and young adults, the existence of sex trafficking, along with the need for improved policies and processes within the law enforcement community in these areas. Her story has touched many in ways that she could not have ever imagined."

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