Authorities in northern Kentucky confirmed Wednesday that they recovered the remains of a girl who had been missing for nearly a decade. Paige Johnson, who was 17 years old at the time of her disappearance, was last seen on Sept. 23, 2010, in Covington, Kentucky, and had left behind a 2-year-old daughter.

Johnson’s remains were discovered in Williamsburg Township, Ohio, roughly 33 miles east of Covington. They were reportedly found close to East Fork State Park after a deer hunter in the area found a burned human skull. Johnson’s family was notified on the same day.

“We are all shocked. We are incredibly sad,” said Alicen Franks, Johnson’s cousin. “Unfortunately, we always feared this would be the outcome.”

Johnson was last seen after being dropped off by a friend, Jacob T. Bumpass, in Covington. Bumpass, who was 22 at the time, was questioned in her disappearance but no charges were ever filed and he has never spoken publicly about Johnson's disappearance. Authorities and prosecutors in Kentucky have kept the case alive over the past decade.

“At this point, there is no cause of death. There remain many questions and much work,” Covington Police Chief Rob Nader said at a press conference. “We all wanted to find Paige alive. Today, I’m sad to say that hope evaporated entirely.”

Police responding to remains also found several items believed to have belonged to Johnson. Dental records were used to confirm the body as Johnson.

While offering a measure a closure to the family, the investigation will now pivot to focus on why and how Johnson went missing.

Bumpass has not been eliminated as a suspect. Police stated that phone records place Bumpass in the area of the park when Paige disappeared.