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SEARSBURG — Vermont State Police investigators have identified the victim of a homicide whose remains were discovered approximately one year ago in southeastern Bennington County. 

Following "DNA analysis and extensive investigative work," police identified the victim as Jessica Hildenbrandt, 43, of Ballston Spa, New York, according to a news release on Monday.

The announcement comes just over one year since a man contacted police on Sept. 17, 2019, to report his discovery of an apparent human jawbone at a gravel pit on Somerset Road in the town of Searsburg. Additional remains were eventually discovered at the site, police said. 

Hildenbrandt, "also known as 'Red,' spent considerable time in Vermont, especially in and around Bennington," according to Monday's release. "She was last in touch with her family in July 2019."

Hildenbrandt's death has been ruled a homicide by the Vermont Chief Medical Examiner's Office, according to the release, though "the cause is currently undetermined."

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Asked to elaborate on Hildenbrandt's ties to Bennington, Adam Silverman, public information officer for Vermont State Police, wrote in an email that he was unable "to provide much beyond the news release," adding, "What I can tell you is that she knew people and spent time in and around Bennington." 

The state police agency is continuing to investigate the death and does not believe there is any ongoing threat to public safety, according to the release. 

Police are encouraging anyone who might have information relevant to the case — especially anyone who might have seen Hildenbrandt in the summer of 2019 — to contact Detective Sgt. Samuel Truex at 802-442-5421 or samuel.truex@vermont.gov

Contacted through Facebook, a relative of Hildenbrandt declined to comment, citing the open investigation. 

Contact Luke Nathan at lnathan@benningtonbanner.com.


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