PUXICO - A missing person investigation is now a homicide investigation in Stoddard County.
According to Stoddard County Sheriff Steve Fish, the skeletal remains found in January are positively identified as Claudia Sneed of Bernie.
When officers began their investigation into the disappearance of the 50-year-old woman, they reportedly found no evidence of foul play at her home. The victim had made a purchase at a convenience store south of Bernie on Aug. 31, 2002, when she was last seen.
During the investigation, nothing was reported missing from Sneed's residence. Her clothes, purse, checkbook and prescription inhaler were inside and her vehicle was parked outside.
The remains were found about 5 p.m. Jan. 28 by a Puxico resident while he was looking for deer antlers along a creek bank about two miles west of Puxico. "There is a creek that runs out of Puxico and crosses T Highway," Fish explained. The remains were found 75 to 100 yards off the roadway.
Fish said about one-third of the body was intact, while the rest was scattered in what is described as "not a very large area." He said authorities suspect animals may have scattered the body. The remains were sent to Dr. Michael Zaricor at Mineral Area Hospital in Farmington for examination to try to determine the gender and race.
DNA samples had been taken from Sneed's home in the earlier investigation, and DNA tests of the remain have positively identified her as the victim.
Evidence discovered during the course of the investigation has revealed that foul play is suspected.