Authorities in Tennessee say that a human skull discovered over the weekend in rural Decatur County was that of nursing student Holly Bobo, who disappeared in April 2011.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn told a news conference late Monday that Bobo's remains were found near her home in the town of Parsons, approximately 110 miles east of Memphis.
Two men discovered the skull Sunday, approximately 10 miles from property owned by the family of Zachary Adams, who has been charged in Bobo's kidnapping and murder. Authorities had previously searched the area this past March. Adams has pleaded not guilty, as has Jason Autry, who is also facing murder and kidnapping charges.
Bobo was 20 when she disappeared. Her brother told police that he saw a man dressed in camouflage leading her away into the woods. Investigators and volunteers scoured the woods and fields of the town of about 2,400 for clues, but her remains were not immediately found.
Gwyn has said the Bobo investigation has been the most expensive and exhaustive in TBI history, and it's not over yet.
Since Bobo disappeared, the small town of Parsons and surrounding areas in West Tennessee tried to support the family, putting up pink ribbons on lampposts, mailboxes and storefronts. Bobo was wearing a pink shirt and carrying a pink purse before she disappeared.
Recently elected District Attorney Matt Stowe said his office was preparing to seek a possible death penalty in the case. A decision is expected in coming weeks, after he consults with the Bobo family, he said.
"The evidence is voluminous," Stowe said. "We are going to make sure that everyone who played a part in the heinous crime that has attacked the peace and dignity of the state of Tennessee faces a consequence for that."
Stowe said the Bobo family would be issuing a statement Tuesday.
Before the news conference Monday, the Bobo family was trying to remain calm and let authorities do their job, said their attorney, Steve Farese.
"You can imagine the emotional roller-coaster that they've been on," Farese said.
Two brothers, Jeffrey Kurt Pearcy and Mark Pearcy, also face charges of tampering with evidence and accessory after the fact in the case. Both men have said they are not guilty.
Farese told reporters Tuesday that Bobo's relatives now want privacy as the investigation continues.
"We believe we have the right to mourn privately as a family, and as a community," he said. "Now is a time for grieving. Please honor our request."
Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd said the case has rocked the community and vowed to hold accountable all those responsible for the young woman's death.
"They can run, but they can’t hide," Byrd told reporters. "We never thought it could happen here. It can; it did."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.