Human remains found Saturday by deer hunters on Walker Mountain in the French Prairie area near Ione are believed to be those of a woman reported missing five years ago.

The remains have been sent to the State Crime Lab for analysis, Logan County Sheriff Steve Smith said the remains, found Saturday shortly after noon.

"I’m going to go out on a limb and say we suspect it’s Kelli Renee Rice," said Smith. "She been missing since March 2nd of (20)08."

Because of his suspicion, Smith said he has notified Rice’s family members who are still in the area about the discovery.

"Of course the main thing is we’ve got to wait for a positive ID," the sheriff said.

Contributing to his suspicion, Smith said, is the remains, which were partial, were located in an area in close proximity to where Rice had last been seen.

"It all fits," said Smith. "(The remains) were actually found in the same general area. That’s what baffles me, is we searched so much out there (with) so many people," Smith said.

The sheriff would not speculate a cause of death for the remains.

"That particular year it was snowing during that time and it was cold," said Smith. "Hopefully (the Crime Lab) will be able to determine if there was foul play."

Smith said the search for Rice, though cold, was one conducted many times since her disappearance.

"We’ve searched all kinds of places from stories that have gone around," said Smith. "At the time we spent a lot of man-hours looking for her. In cases like this a lot of times this is how a person is found, by a deer hunter."

Smith said the remains were found on a plateau on commercial property.