CLAY, N.Y. (AP) - Seachers combing through woods for any sign of a 20-year-old dance major who vanished last week found the body of a woman believed to be the missing student covered in debris behind a storage shed, the district attorney said Saturday.
The body was discovered in swampy area in Clay Central Park, part of a 1,200-acre area canvassed by more than 100 police and volunteers in suburban Syracuse.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said the remains have not been positively identified but were consistent in age and race with Jenni-Lyn Watson, who disappeared after returning home for Thanksgiving break last week.
Her parents were notified, Fitzpatrick said.
"That says it all - how awful," he told the Syracuse Post-Standard.
He wouldn't say whether a suspect had been identified in the death. A news conference was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday to discuss developments in the case.
Watson went missing last Friday, a day after arriving at her family's home north of Syracuse. She is a junior dance major at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., and was described as 5-foot-2 and 100 pounds, with dark blonde hair and brown eyes.
The search effort was stepped up Friday. Undersheriff Warren Darby said they doubled the area where they were looking, and volunteers copied and handed out thousands of fliers and held vigils.
The body was found in the search, about two miles north of Watson's home. Investigators were led to the wooded area near her home after a cell phone transmission the day she disappeared.
Fitzpatrick said the body appeared to be placed there to conceal it.
"It appears she was laid flat and covered up with vegetation," he told the newspaper.
A call by The Associated Press to the district attorney rang unanswered Saturday.