LINCOLN COUNTY, Mo. ( - Skeletal remains were found inside a vehicle that was parked in the garage of a home on Fox Run Road, southwest of Elsberry, Lincoln County Sheriff Rick Harrell said. He said thieves repeatedly walked past the remains to steal from the home over a period of months.

"Unfortunately, oftentimes in law enforcement, you come across cases that shock your conscience," said Harrell.

According to Harrell, the investigation started with a traffic stop of a woman in Elsberry, which led to the recovery of methamphetamine and the discovery that the pickup being driven was stolen. He said, when investigators went to the home of the vehicle owner, they found skeletal remains, a ransacked home and many items stolen.

"Certainly it seems like a group of criminal opportunists, when they found out about this body, they had just ransacked the residence and taken many items. We've recovered stolen vehicles, stolen firearms and tens of thousands of dollars in other related items," said Harrell.

Sheriff Harrell said the body may have been in the car since last summer and that the thieves were aware of it as they walked past it for months to steal from the home. Neighbors said they were shocked by the greed and callousness of the thieves.

"It's really sad," said Karen Reese.

Harrell said investigators have made a tentative identification but the name won't be released until a DNA test can confirm it. At this point, there's a lack of any evidence to indicate foul place was involved in the death.

A cause of death hasn't been able to be determined, but Harrell said detectives are tracing the person's financial transactions to determine a time frame for when they possibly died.

The sheriff said detectives are working with the Lincoln County Prosecuting Attorney's office to bring charges against more than two dozen suspects. But there could be more, so the sheriff's office is asking anyone who knows something about this crime to call 636-528-8546, extension 3247, to speak with a detective.

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