Police in a Siberian city have found the charred remains of several children and suspect they may be those of five boys who went missing in April, ending a massive three-week search, a regional prosecutor said today.
The Krasnoyarsk region’s chief prosecutor Viktor Grin, said in televised remarks that investigators had found among the remains a key from the apartment of one of the missing schoolchildren, who were aged from 9 to 12 and disappeared on April 16.
He said DNA tests would be conducted to establish the identity of the corpses.
The authorities had offered a reward for information about the boys’ whereabouts, as police combed nearby forests and searched the city’s markets and buildings. Several thousand people called in sightings of the children and volunteers joined in the search.
Police in Krasnoyarsk, about 2,100 miles east of Moscow, found the badly burned bodies on Sunday about a half-a-mile from their home on the outskirts of the city, the Gazeta.ru news website reported.
Police have not entirely ruled out foul play but investigators at the scene did not detect any signs of violent death and said it was possible the children died from an accidental fire, the website said.
“There are no grounds to believe that they were the victims of a crime,” the top police official in the Siberian federal district, Yury Skovordin, told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta today.
But the father of one of missing boys accused law enforcement agencies of not properly investigating the case.
“The police is doing everything it can to classify what happened as an accident,” Yevgeny Taumanov, whose son Maxim was among the five children, told the newspaper.
Investigators had originally pursued two lines of inquiry for the missing children, who were all neighbours and went to the same school according to the Ekho Moskvy radio – a kidnapping or they ran away together.
A spokesman for the general prosecutor’s office in Moscow said that Russia’s Deputy Prosecutor-General Vladimir Kolesnikov had flown to Krasnoyarsk to personally lead the investigation.