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Bones found within blocks of where a man was reported missing years prior

Sgt. Tony Murphy with Fayetteville police has confirmed they are investigating the remains as human, but they've been sent to the crime lab for confirmation.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Fayetteville police were searching in a wooded area near Holly Street and Oakland Avenue after skeletal remains were found by a dog Tuesday night.

Sgt. Tony Murphy with Fayetteville Police tells 5NEWS that officers received a call just after 11 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 10, about a dog finding skeletal remains in the area.

Police were able to confirm that the bone found was a jawbone and that they were investigating the bones found as belonging to a human. Other remains were found and have been sent to the crime lab for confirmation. 

Sgt. Murphy said there wasn't an available timeline on when that confirmation would be available.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office, Fayetteville Police, and the county coroner are all a part of the investigation. Drones were deployed above the area.

In a search of missing people in Fayetteville our 5NEWS archives showed 18-year-old Christian Hernandez disappeared just blocks away from where those remains were found. 

5NEWS spoke with his mother who says she is still holding out hope that the remains will not be connected to her missing son. "If I could tell him that I love him very much and I want him to come home," Hernandez's mother Jennifer Hay said that is her only wish.

Hay says her son disappeared on Dec. 30, 2020.

"We thought we would go out and find him—although we never did," Hay said.

She says the 18-year-old loved to draw and sing.

“It's been hard the whole time," Hay said. "Just praying and hoping that he comes home."

While it may take weeks for the remains to be identified, the news of the discovery Wednesday morning was quickly shared with Hay.

"I found out at about 10 o'clock this morning from a message from my daughter Jessie, who lives in Missouri, she saw the news post from Channel 5," Hays said.

The news was shared as police used tools and drones to find evidence in the heavily wooded area.

"A dog had been out playing and retrieved some possible human remains….the dog had brought back a bone or bones," Murphy said. "Officers responded to the scene and at that point, we initiated an investigation."

"It scared me," Hay said. "I just thought about it right off. 'It could be him.'"

Wednesday, Hay also met with the detective that's been working on her son's case.

"And the most he could tell me is it could take a few weeks to get DNA back on the results of the remains," Hay said.

They say time heals all wounds. But in this case, it's the waiting that hurts.

"I mean I feel horrible," said Hay "The not knowing. It'll be, probably a hard few weeks. Everybody who knew Chris knew how great of a kid he was."

While a conclusion is still being found as to the identity of the remains if you have any information on the disappearance of Christian Hernandez, or the identity of the bones found in Fayetteville, please contact the police.

Officers say more information will be released as it becomes available.

Editor's Note: This story previously quoted police as saying the initial call was received at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. Police later reached out to 5NEWS to correct their previous statement, the call came just after 11 p.m. Tuesday night.

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