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Trenton death ruled suicide; family doesn't buy it

The forensic pathologist who conducted Tuesday's autopsy on Tanner Ward, 19, of Trenton, Mo., ruled his death a suicide. (Family Photo)

UPDATE: The Trenton Police Department issued a news release early Tuesday evening stating that the human remains found in Trenton Monday morning have been positively identified as those of Tanner Ward, 19, of Trenton.

He had last been seen by his family on June 7, 2017. The remains were discovered around 7:30 a.m. Monday in a wooded area in central Trenton just off of Shanklin Avenue near GFG Ag Services.

Police said two high school students were walking to school when they stumbled across the grisly discovery.

The forensic pathologist who conducted Tuesday's autopsy has ruled the death a suicide. The police department said in its news release that no further information is available at this time.

Ward's family is apparently not buying the ruling. Ward's older sister, Kelsey Ward, told KTVO Tuesday evening that her family believes Tanner was murdered based on all the tips that were received during the investigation into her brother's disappearance.

Kelsey told KTVO police informed her family that Tanner had hanged himself. The family does not believe that either.

Ward said her family thinks someone dug up Tanner's body Sunday night and placed it in the tree where the two students found it Monday morning.

She told KTVO the tree where her brother's body was found hanging is three blocks from her parents' house.

Kelsey said the students who discovered Tanner's remains walk that route to school every day, and the body wasn't there a couple of days before that.

Ward told us the family would like an outside law enforcement agency to investigate her brother's death.

KTVO has learned new information about the investigation into a body found Monday.

Northern Missouri investigators are still following up on the discovery of human remains in Trenton.

Police Chief Tommy Wright told KTVO that at approximately 7:30 a.m. Monday two students walking to school stumbled upon the decaying body in a wooded area in the central part of the city.

He said the two are usually dropped off at school, but they did not have a ride on Monday so they were taking a shortcut through the woods just north of Shanklin Avenue as they walked to school.

That is when they made the grisly discovery.

Wright said the body appeared to be intact, but it was so badly decomposed investigators could not tell if it was a male or female.

An autopsy was performed Tuesday morning to try to make a positive ID and possibly determine a cause of death.

Preliminary results have not been released yet.

The chief said his department notified the family of Tanner Ward, 19, of Trenton, on Monday about the discovery.

Ward has been missing since June 7, 2017.

Wright told KTVO he will be sending out a press release likely Tuesday evening that includes an update on the investigation.

We will keep you posted as we learn new details.

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