Kootenai County Sheriff Rocky Watson said Monday that "possible" human remains had been found at a site in western Montana, and would be sent to the FBI crime lab in Virginia for DNA analysis. That is expected to take three days.
Watson declined to answer questions, but the fact that he called a press conference at the place where reporters were following the Groene story indicated officials believe the remains were related.
"Unfortunately we believe Dylan to be deceased," Sheriff's Capt. Ben Wolfinger said after Watson's announcement. But until the remains are identified, they could not be certain, he said.
"We believe them to be human remains. That's why we're sending them to the FBI lab in Quantico to have that final, definitive test done to make sure that they are human and they are, in fact, Dylan's," Wolfinger told CBS News Early Show co-anchor René Syler.
Dylan and Shasta, 8, had been missing since May 16, when the bound and bludgeoned bodies of their mother, older brother and mother's boyfriend were found at their rural home near here. Shasta was spotted by employees and customers early Saturday morning eating breakfast with a man at a Denny's restaurant in Coeur d'Alene.
Officers arrested the man, Joseph Edward Duncan III, 42, on suspicion of kidnapping and other charges. Duncan, from Fargo, N.D., is a violent sexual predator who has spent much of his adult life in prison.
Authorities planned to formally charge Duncan with kidnapping and being a fugitive from justice, and have said more charges were possible. A judge ruled Monday that there was probable cause to keep Duncan in jail until an initial court appearance Tuesday.
The sheriff's office released a photograph showing a smiling Shasta hugging her father Steve at Kootenai Medical Center. Another photo showed her holding a doll. The photos do not show any apparent injuries from her nearly six weeks of captivity.
"She's a much happier little girl right now," Wolfinger said, adding she was listed in good condition.
Officers have interviewed the girl a couple of times, but details of what happened to the children are agonizingly slow in coming.
"She's certainly helped give us some direction and focus in the investigation," Wolfinger told Syler. "She's a strong little girl, but she's still an 8-year-old little girl. God only knows what he's been through the last six or seven weeks. The investigators that are processing this part of the case are taking it one step at a time. When she's able to talk to them, when she's willing to talk to them, giving them what information she can give them at those times."
Duncan has refused to cooperate, officials said.