Maranda Merrell

Remains Found in Arkansas Woods Identified as Woman Who Vanished a Year Ago

Human remains found earlier this month in rural Arkansas have been positively identified as belongong to a Jefferson County woman who disappeared last May.

Maranda Neal was last seen on May 22, 2022, when she left her home on an ATV to visit her mother’s grave at a local cemetery, as CrimeOnline previously reported.

Police searched the area but found nothing until a hunter came across Neal’s ATV in November.

Crews set out to search again on May 5, and the remains were found in thick underbrush about a half mile from where the ATV was located.

Jefferson County deputies announced the identification Thursday after DNA testing conducted by the Arkansas State Crime Lab was completed, KARK reported.

“The loss of a loved one is an unimaginable tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends as they navigate through their grief,” Sheriff Lafayette Woods Jr. said. “The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office remains committed to supporting them throughout this process.”

Deputies are still investigating the circumstances around Neal’s disappearance and ask anyone with information to contact them at 870-541-5351.

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[Featured image: Maranda Merrell Neal/Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office]