Remains found in an underground pipe in a Little Rock park have been confirmed as those of an 18-year-old woman who went missing in 2015.
The remains were confirmed by the Little Rock Police Department, according to a reporter for KARK 4 News on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, police announced during a press conference that the remains could be those of Steppach, who disappeared in October 2015.
The remains were found by cold case investigators in an underground pipe in Chalamont Park, the last place Steppach was seen before she went missing.
The remains were found near a memorial for Steppach, police said.
Steppach’s family released a statement on Wednesday after her remains were positively identified.
“The family would like to thank all of you who have supported efforts to find Ebby,” the statement read. “It has been through your support, many prayers and God’s strength that they have been able to make this journey.”
“God hears and answers all prayers,” it continued. “Yesterday, God answered the family’s prayers to find Ebby.”
“They are thankful for the life they got to share with her and ask for continued support and prayers as they work through this difficult time,” the statement read.
The family thanked the numerous people involved in the investigation, including a Little Rock Cold Case Detective, Tommy Hudson, and members of the cold case unit, as well as the FBI.
A “Celebration of Ebby’s Life” will be held by the family at a local church, Christ Community Church, on May 26 at 2 p.m.
Steppach went missing on Oct. 24, 2015, after she was supposed to meet her stepfather at her grandmother’s home in West Little Rock, KATV reports.
“When she wasn’t at her grandmother’s house [the following day], that’s when thing started to get like, ‘Well, where is she?,'” Steppach’s stepdad, Michael Jernigan, told the station at the time.
Days after Steppach’s disappearance, her Volkswagen vehicle was found in Chalamont Park, the station reports.
At the time, Little Rock police believed Steppach ran away. But her family told local media they believed she was in danger.
“I understand her strong will, I understand all of that. She would never do this. She loves her family so much, she wouldn’t cause her family this much pain,” Steppach’s mother, Laurie Steppach, told KATV.
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After Tuesday’s discovery, Steppach’s family released a statement asking for privacy, THV11 reports.
The park has been searched multiple times since Steppach’s disappearance, police spokesman Officer Steve Moore said. It’s unclear what compelled investigators to search the pipe specifically on Tuesday.
Of the continuing investigation, Moore says, “We’ve never given up on this.”