MOUNTAIN HOME - Idaho Fish and Game officers discovered what appears to the skeletal remains of a young child just north of Mountain Home, officials said Monday.
The remains, believed to be from a 1- to 5-year-old child, were found off Hot Creek Road partially uncovered inside a badger hole on Saturday, the Elmore County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
"It was a gravel road, it hasn't been paved that long so it had to be an intent to put something out here in order to hide it. That's the way we're looking at it," Elmore County Sheriff Mike Hollinshead told KTVB. "A badger had dug a hole coming back out of the ground and popped its head out and that's what disturbed it [and] pushed the bones from the shallow grave to the surface."
Officials believe the remains had been buried for an extended period of time, and their unofficial estimation is about 15-20 years. They noted that there were no fibrous materials such as clothing found with the bones.
The sheriff's office consulted with archeologists and a tribal representative before removing the remains, and said that experts do not believe the bones to be Native American, based on where they were found.
Archeologists conducted tests and determined the bones are not connected to the nearby Oregon Trail network.
The sheriff's office says the investigation is ongoing, and that they have not ruled out the possibility of foul play. Deputies are working with several neighboring agencies to determine possible links to cases outside of Elmore County. Hollinshead said several sheriffs across Idaho have contacted him about open cases they're working on.
"We have gone back in our research and we have even called prior sheriffs and they have said nothing," Sheriff Hollinshead said. "We're leaning toward it came from outside."
KTVB has been receiving a lot of questions on social media about whether this is related to Deorr Kunz Jr., the 2-year-old from eastern Idaho who went missing on a camping trip near Leadore, Idaho in 2015.
"These are not just a couple years old from what we can see at this time," Sheriff Hollinshead added. "I just ask the public not to jump to conclusions on everything right now. The bones have been there for a quite a while."