A German tourist from Hamburg went missing soon after arriving on the remote island of Nuku Hiva in French Polynesia this month, and many initially feared that he may have been eaten by cannibals.
The German tourist, 40-year-old Stefan Ramin, was traveling with a local hunter on the French-governed island when he disappeared.
After a weeklong search, charred human remains were found near a campfire on Saturday. DNA tests are currently being carried out on the remains, which include bones, a jaw with some prosthetic teeth, as well as some melted metal pieces (believed to be fillings). It was suggested that the body may have been hacked into pieces and burnt, according to the English-language German newspaper The Local.
Remains of a man's clothes were also found at the abandoned site, located in a valley roughly two hours from the coast.
The remains and articles of clothing were sent to Paris and it could be weeks before the DNA evidence is properly analyzed.
The German Foreign Ministry said that they are aware of the case and in contact with local authorities.
Authorities, led by Tahiti-based chief investigator Jose Thorel, raised fears that Ramin may have been attacked and eaten by cannibals.
Ramin was sailing around the world with his partner, 37-year-old Heike Dorsch, when he went missing. Police are still searching for the local hunter, the last person to be seen with the German tourist.
Dorsch told local authorities that the hunter, Henri Haiti, offered to take Ramin on a traditional goat hunting trip into the island's interior. He later returned alone, telling the woman that her partner had been injured and needed help.
Dorsch told the local newspaper Depeche de Tahiti that the hunter then threatened her, tied her to a tree, and sexually abused her. Haiti fled the scene and Dorsch managed to escape several hours later and alert authorities.
The local newspaper Les Nouvelles describes Haiti as a young man who loved sport and was well known in his village on the island of Nuku Hiva, which has a population of just over 2000.
German newspaper Bild, however, said that Haiti was a suspected cannibal.
Dorsch and Ramin set sail together in 2008 on what was to be the trip of a lifetime around the world. They had planned to spend several months in French Polynesia and were blogging about their travels online, though the Web site appears to be down. The couple landed on Nuku Hiva two weeks ago.
Ramin lists traveling, blue water sailing, kiting, kitesurfing, surfing, and diving as his interests on Facebook.
News Web sites in French Polynesia expressed nationwide shock.
No one can believe what has happened, Deborah Kimitete, the deputy mayor of Nuku Hiva, told Les Nouvelles.
This has never happened here before, this is the first time, it's horrible.
Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas islands and some claim it has a history of cannibalism - though there is no definitive proof. The island was featured in the stories of Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, and was the location for the 4th installment of the CBS reality show Survivor.