Could a grisly discovery in Luzerne County hold the answer to the fate of Cindy Song, the Penn State student whose disappearance on Halloween night in 2001 drew national attention but ultimately faded into a cold case?
Investigators say the badly destroyed remains of 12 people have been found on the Luzerne County property of Hugo Selenski, a convicted bank robber who had been implicated, but never charged, in Songs disappearance.
Police have not linked Song to the remains. But a former co-defendant of Selenski had previously told investigators that the man picked up a woman matching the 21-year-old Songs description in State College, kidnapped her and killed her.
The informant led police to the locations of five bodies on Selenskis property in 2003, but DNA proved none of them were Song.
The revelation that 12 bodies were discovered came this week in a grand jury indictment filed against Selenski and his legal team. The indictment alleges wrongdoing in the teams preparation for Selenskis pending murder trial related to two of the bodies found on his property.
But the document also reveals new details about what else police found there.
Luzerne County authorities believe that Selenski was directly involved in the murder of approximately 12 human beings found burned and buried in a pit in his backyard, the indictment said. Many of these bodies were burned beyond recognition.
Police in Ferguson Township, who have been investigating Songs disappearance, said Wednesday they are aware of the latest findings and have been in contact with state police in Luzerne County, who are handling the discovery of the bodies.
A state police spokeswoman said the investigating officer in the case could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
A spokesman for the state Attorney Generals Office said the grand jury was investigating alleged intimidating of witnesses charges, not the discovery of the bodies, and referred additional questions to state police.
Ferguson Police Chief Diane Conrad said state police have not indicated that Song was among those found on the property. Conrad said she could not comment further on the state police investigation, including whether any of the remains have been identified.
The best thing we can do is to get (any) new information we have entered into (a missing persons database), she said.
That information, which includes identifiers like tattoos, dental records and physical descriptions, could be matched to remains found on the property.
To date, no matches to any unidentified remains have been made, Conrad said.
Song disappeared Nov. 1, 2001, from her off-campus apartment. She was last seen leaving a Halloween party dressed in bunny ears.
Reported sightings and leads initially flooded in, and television crime shows spotlighted the case. But none could solve the crime, and eventually tips about the case slowed, police have said.
Now, more than 12 years after Songs disappearance, it appears local police must continue to wait.
It can be a long and difficult process, Conrad said.
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.