After nearly a year, Vermont officials were able to identify human remains found in a gravel pit but authorities don't know how or why she died. Jessica Heldenbrandt, 43, was an upstate New York auto industry worker who spent a lot of time in Vermont, police said.
Her remains were finally identified in September, and her family was able to bury her in October.
On Sept. 17, 2019, a call was placed to Vermont authorities by someone who found what appeared to be a human jawbone in an abandoned gravel pit. State police searched the area in Searsburg and discovered more remains.
Nearly a year later, police identified the remains and said Heldenbrandt, of New York's Ballston Spa, was a frequent visitor to Bennington, a Vermont college town where she knew several people.
"She was last in touch with her family in July 2019," state police said after identifying her remains.
The case remains open, and though it has been classified as a homicide, investigator have yet to identify a cause of death, or a motive.
Hildenbrandt is the first homicide victim in Bennington County since 2017, when an 81-year-old was found stabbed to death in her home, the Bennington Banner reported Monday.
Authorities are asking for the public's help, Detective Lt. John-Paul Schmidt of the Vermont Special Police told the paper.
“We’re always looking for people to talk to us,” Schmidt said. “If they have information, we’d love to hear from them.” The agency can be reached at (802) 241-5000.