POTSDAM State police investigators have found human remains buried behind a mobile home at 733 May Road in the town of Stockholm.
St. Lawrence County Coroner James M. Sienkiewycz said the remains were in a box lined with concrete. Investigators pulled the box from the ground this morning.
It is too early to tell whether the body found was that of Betty Babcock or her husband, Alvin, the couple in their 80s believed to be have been buried there. Mr. Sienkiewycz said the body was wrapped in some kind of material, and it was premature to determine whether the remains were male or female.
He said the remains will be taken to a local morgue, and arrangements will be made for an autopsy.
From that point we will be making connections to move them to either Onondaga or Albany for a forensic autopsy, Mr. Sienkiewycz said. They will be looking at DNA and past medical records that we can obtain in order to help determine who the person is.
That could include using dental records for identification, he said.
Investigators from the state police Forensic Identification Unit will be working with Mr. Sienkiewycz to identify the body.
The whole autopsy procedure, including a toxicology report to determine chemical levels in the body, takes about 10 weeks. Determining identification will happen more quickly with the help of a medical history, Mr. Sienkiewycz said.
Once the body is identified and investigators are satisfied with their findings, it will be released to the family for funeral services, Mr. Sienkiewycz said.
The search for the Babcocks is a result of what started out as a welfare fraud investigation. The case on Tuesday turned into a missing persons investigation, and as of this morning, has become a death investigation, state police Troop B spokeswoman Trooper Jennifer V. Fleishman said.
The probe led authorities to the May Road trailer occupied by Robert Bartlett, who, according to relatives of Mrs. Babcock, used to drive her and her husband to doctor appointments.
Mrs. Fleishman said when troopers were unable to locate the Babcocks during their welfare fraud investigation, the investigation shifted gears. At this point, however, state police have no suspects and an autopsy will help determine whether the investigation will shift to homicide, she said.
No one has been charged, and no arrests are being made until we get further along in our investigation, she said.
Relatives of Betty Babcock said Wednesday they had not heard from her in about two years.
Mr. Sienkiewycz was called to the dig site this morning. He was joined by District Attorney Mary E. Rain, members of her staff and John H. Donohue, state police Violent Crime Investigation Team senior investigator.
State police began digging at 733 May Road on Thursday morning. The box brought to light this morning is one of two believed to be on the property. The ground is being thawed to help investigators unearth the second.
Excavation and investigation will continue throughout the weekend.