MOHAVE COUNTY, Ariz. — Authorities are treating the case of human remains found just a few miles south of St. George near Interstate 15 on the Arizona Strip as a homicide investigation.
The two bodies were reported to authorities last month, one of which was positively identified Thursday as Susan McFalls, the woman who went missing with her husband, Jerry McFalls, in January from their home in northern Arizona. The other set of remains is still undergoing analysis at the FBI Crime Lab.
“At this point, we are investigating this as a homicide due to the state in which the remains were found,” Mohave County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Anita Mortensen told St. George News Friday, noting that the medical examiner may not determine the exact cause of death for some time to come.
Up until the point the remains were identified, the Sheriff’s Office had been treating the McFalls’ disappearance as a case of missing and endangered persons.
The positive identification of one of the bodies as Susan McFalls has come as bittersweet news for the couple’s family. During a press conference Thursday evening, Jerry McFalls Jr., the couple’s son, said:
It gives you a small sense of relief to know that at least we can bring them home and lay them to rest with the family and that they’re not going to live the legacy of being missing people.
Meridee McFalls, the couple’s daughter-in-law, said the family “fully anticipates” the other body found alongside Susan McFalls to be that of Jerry McFalls Sr.
“It’s been a long 294 days stuck on ‘day one’ since they went missing with no answers to when, where, why, how, what happened to them,” she said. “It’s more important that we get them home to us, but the next step is definitely to get justice for them.”
David Bounsall, an investigator from Las Vegas-based Federal Fugitive Recovery Agency who has voluntarily helped the McFalls family with extensive search and investigation efforts, pointed St. George News to the location where the bodies were reportedly found buried just off a dirt road a few yards from a dispersed camping spot less than a mile from I-15.
Bounsall said witnesses in the area observed law enforcement personnel investigating the crime scene over the course of four days after the remains were found Oct. 15. Traffic on I-15 is easily observable from the site, and the area isn’t obscured from the vantage point of the freeway.
At the alleged burial site, a bouquet of flowers sits atop disturbed dirt, an offering left Thursday by volunteers who helped in a monthslong search effort.
The relentless search effort included hundreds of volunteers scouring the desert near the couple’s Arizona home in the small communities of Littlefield and Beaver Dam, about eight miles east of the Nevada-Arizona state line. Bounsall said search crews covered thousands of miles of terrain, traveling remote off-road trails and inspecting abandoned mineshafts.
The dedicated search effort was inspired in large part by people who had come to love and respect the McFalls in life.
“A lot of the searchers that came from all over different states drove to Arizona to help us just to give thanks for the influence they had in their life helping them along,” Jerry McFalls Jr. said. “All the people that showed up, there’s too many to list, but I just want them to know that we’re truly blessed by them and forever grateful for everything they’ve done to help our family out.”
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