Remains identified as kidnapped Montana teacher

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A body found buried in North Dakota was identified Thursday as a Montana high school teacher who was abducted while jogging more than two months ago, the FBI said.

The remains of 43-year-old Sherry Arnold were recovered Wednesday near Williston, N.D., about 50 miles northeast of Sidney, the Montana town where she worked.

Family members and those who knew Arnold have been anxious for her body to be found to bring the case to some resolution.

Arnold’s sister, Rhonda Whited, said the family was being comforted and supported by friends and others in Sidney who were affected by the loss of a popular teacher and well-known member of the community.

“That’s the only thing that gets anybody through. We’re all in this together,” Whited said. “We just kind of hang on to one another and keep praying.”

Suspects Michael Spell, 22, and Lester Van Waters Jr., 48, have pleaded not guilty to aggravated kidnapping in the case and await trial.

The FBI declined to disclose details on where the body was found or what led them to the site. Authorities previously said one of the suspects tried to lead FBI agents to the site in past weeks but failed.

Confirmation that the remains found Wednesday were those of Arnold came after the body was taken to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula. An autopsy was planned.

There was no immediate word on when the body would be returned to Arnold’s family. A date for funeral services will be set after that happens, Whited said.

The discovery of the remains across state lines from the scene of the kidnapping means federal charges could be filed against Spell and Waters.

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