WEST WENDOVER, Nev. — Police say they have called off their search for a missing teenager after the discovery of what appears to be a shallow grave.
Human remains were found about five miles west of West Wendover at about 10:30 a.m., although police did not immediately disclose the exact location.
Saturday morning, 135 volunteer searchers set out, hoping to find 16-year-old Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo. She is said to be a good student, and a popular one.
"When things are bad, she always has something good to say to you. She always makes you feel good about everything," said Heidi Thompson, a junior at West Wendover High School.
"I just hope that we can find this little girl safe," West Wendover resident Sharon Spillman said. "[I] never thought anything like this would happen in Wendover."
Micaela was last seen leaving school Thursday at 5:15 p.m. She never made it a few blocks to the apartment where she lives with her mother.
Saturday morning, a searcher looking on his own a few miles west of town found something in the barren desert area alongside some railroad tracks. West Wendover's chief of police described it as a shallow grave with what appears to be a body. He broke the news to volunteers as he suspended the search.
"If it turns out to be something other than what we think it is, we'll put the word back out and go from there," Police Chief Ron Supp said.
"We have not terminated the search efforts. We have suspended them to allow teams to get in there and take a look at what's been discovered and to make an assessment from there," said West Wendover Police Sgt. David Wiskerchen.
Wiskerchen said police have no way of determining yet whether the body is Micaela's.
School officials quickly sent out an automated phone message to all students and teachers inviting them to the school to grieve and to feel safe.
"It's very solemn," said high school counselor Anne Crawford. "There's lots of tears and there's a lot of people very scared or nervous."
"It's really sad to know it could be her. It's really hard," said Janet Romero, a friend of Micaela's.
School officials plan to keep the high school to students and staff until 10 p.m.
A family spokeswoman says the Miceala's family wants to thank everyone for their support by coming out to search and taking time away from their families.
The family is also waiting for confirmation on the ID of the body. Until more comes form the investigation, the spokeswoman said they ask people keep them in their prayers.
Because of the location of the shallow grave, the Elko County Sheriff's Office has taken over the investigation. West Wendover police say they have no suspects.
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