Watch CBSN Live

Recovered body identified as Montana math teacher Sherry Arnold, authorities say

Sherry Arnold AP/Sidney Montana Police Department

(CBS/AP) BILLINGS, Mont. - Authorities have identified a body found in North Dakota as missing Montana teacher Sherry Arnold, who was kidnapped in January.

The identification was made Thursday after the body of 43-year-old Arnold was taken to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula.

Arnold was abducted on Jan. 7 off a street in Sidney, Montana while jogging at the edge of town. Michael Spell, 22, and Lester Van Waters Jr., 48, were charged with aggravated kidnapping in the case and await trial.

Arnold's body was found near Williston, N.D., about 50 miles northeast of Sidney. It's not clear what led authorities to that location, although one of the suspects in the case had apparently tried to lead FBI agents to the site in past weeks but failed.

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

Spell and Waters pleaded not guilty last month to one count each of aggravated kidnapping during an arraignment in state district court in Sidney. The charge carries a potential death penalty in Montana if a victim is not released unharmed.

A similar federal charge could also carry a death penalty upon conviction.

Court documents filed by the prosecutor in the case indicate Spell has confessed to his role in what an affidavit described as the crack-fueled abduction and killing of Arnold.

Spell told investigators he pulled her into a car and Waters choked her to death before they buried her in a shallow grave on a farmstead near Williston.

Complete coverage of the Sherry Arnold case on Crimesider

View CBS News In