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Remains found in Haralson County belong to woman missing since 2018

Authorities are still investigating how Jessica Earl died

HARALSON COUNTY, Ga. — Authorities have made a heartbreaking confirmation regarding remains found several days ago near Tallapoosa.

According to the Haralson County Sheriff's Office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Medical Examiner's Office has told them that the bones belong to Jessica Victoria Earl, a woman who was reported missing in June 2018. 

The sheriff's office said the investigation into her cause and manner of death are still ongoing. The statement added that the sheriff's office wouldn't release any further information regarding the findings but asked the community to keep Earl's family in their prayers in the days to come.

Earl was last seen alive in Tallapoosa, Georgia about 60 miles west of Atlanta. The sheriff's office previously said that a property owner on Mt. Zion Road found what he thought was a shirt but it ended up being a tattered backpack with some of the woman's belongings inside.

RELATED: 'This could be more serious' | Authorities offer $1K reward in missing Haralson woman's case

Cadaver dogs later canvassed the area and found two areas of interest that were, unfortunately, impassable at the time. By Oct. 17, enough of the brush had died down that a family member of the property owners was able to uncover a human skull. Not long after, the GBI and sheriff's office were able to comb the area once again and collected any remains they could find.

A sheriff's office spokesperson said at the time that they strongly believed the remains were Earls but an official examination was still needed to confirm it was true.

WHAT HAPPENED TO JESSICA EARL?

Authorities have not said what caused Earl's death. 

Haralson County Deputy Chief Joey McSwain said Jefferey Odom, who was connected to the case, allegedly told detectives he had "no knowledge" of Earl's whereabouts after she walked off into a wooded area last summer. He said she went to search for arrowheads.

Odom then apparently told investigators that she had used drugs beforehand and was in an altered mental state. Because of that, he said she had no idea where she could have gone. Odom told authorities he hasn't spoken to or heard from Earl since she disappeared but he believed she was safe and either “hiding out” or trying to “dry out” from drugs.

Officials said they weren't able to rule out foul play in the death. 

In a previous statement on the case, McSwain said that on the day Earl disappeared, witnesses reported she and Odom were seen having an argument. Odom allegedly took her phone and keys before leaving in a vehicle. McSwain said they had also been told by several people that she was trying to get away from Odom.

RELATED: Man connected to Haralson County woman's disappearance says he has 'no knowledge' of her location

During the course of the investigation, several other people were taken into custody including 31-year-old Tyla Toliver of Tallapoosa and 40-year-old Candy Chandler of Villa Rica, Georgia. Both were charged for picking up Odom on June 21 and taking him to a home in Villa Rica for the night, despite knowing he was being sought by law enforcement. 

Authorities also later arrested Odom's mother 56-year-old Deanna Smith, also for obstruction charges because of false information she reportedly provided to police. 

On Friday, police said the investigation remains open. Odom remains in custody on charges not related to Earl's disappearance. 

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