Nearly 35 years ago, 12-year-old Jonelle Matthews went missing in Greeley, Colorado. Now, local police have confirmed that a set of bones discovered near a pipeline digging site in Weld County this week belong to Matthews, bringing an end to a search that began on Dec. 20, 1984, as reported by the Greeley Tribune.

Workers at the site reported the discovery of human remains at 4:50 p.m. on Tuesday. Local police inspected the discovery site through the night and into Wednesday morning. Sgt. Joe Tymkowych of the Greeley Police Department confirmed on Thursday that a positive ID had been made by the Weld County Coroner.

“It’s a long-pursued, heavy-hearted kind of case,” Tymkowych said. “As time went on, we knew there was a possibility we wouldn’t get her back. This is possibly a piece of the puzzle that will help us to solve the case.”

Matthews was last seen after performing at a Christmas concert with the Franklin Middle School Honor Choir and was dropped off at her home alone at 8 p.m. by her father's friend. At the time of her disappearance, the case managed to gain national attention. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan mentioned Matthews during a speech meant to promote an initiative to solve missing children cases nationwide.

Matthews’ adoptive parents, Jim and Gloria Matthews, are now retired and reside in Costa Rica. Their biological daughter, Jenn Mogensen, has spoken about the situation on behalf of the family.

“We’ve been surrounded by lots of love from friends and family in Greeley,” Mogensen said. “We’re grateful for the closure, but other questions have now been raised... My parents have always been so appreciative of the Greeley community. We will probably have a service there because the case did affect so many people.”

The family has yet to decide if Matthews’ remains will be buried locally.