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Human remains discovered near South Carolina home of long-missing grandma

Pictured: Melissa Aguilar, ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC/Gray News) - The family of a South Carolina woman who has been missing since August says they are infuriated after finding exposed remains they believed to be hers. Melissa Aguilar, 49, of Holly Hill, was last in contact with family on Aug. 17, according to Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell. Aguilarâs sister, Sarah Shipman, said investigators told her Thursday that remains were found in Holly Hill, less than half a mile from Aguilarâs home. After asking neighbors for an approximate location, she and Aguilarâs two daughters, Brittany Ranew and Shanna Brown, went to the site the next day, hoping for closure.


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Human remains have been found near the South Carolina home of a 49-year-old grandma reported missing nearly five months ago by her ex — with her sister even finding her “jawbone between my feet.”

Melissa Aguilar was reported missing on Aug. 18 after leaving her Holly Hill home following an argument with her former beau, WIS-TV reported, citing investigators with the local sheriff’s office.

Her sister, Sarah Shipman, told WAFB that officials told her last week that remains were found less than a half-mile from the house — though a positive identification had yet to be made.

She said she then made a chilling discovery when she went to the wooded site along with Aguilar’s two daughters, Brittany Ranew and Shanna Brown.

“As I was hugging my nieces and consoling them, I looked down and found my sister’s jawbone between my feet,” the shocked sister told WAFB.

“We know her smile, and that smile was in the dirt, and you don’t unsee that, and you know someone’s smile.”Shipman rushed her nieces from the area, then returned to examine the remains more closely.

“I found her dental work and close to 20 more pieces of my sister that they had walked over and left behind,” she told WAFB, referring to law enforcement.

The family had harsh words for the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office after the discovery of the remains, which have been sent to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for processing and identification.

Shipman said that the family was assured that the remains would be collected but that when they returned to the scene Tuesday they found what appeared to be additional bones and a tooth.

“I knew, there was something telling me there was more,” she told WAFB.

Shipman said the family has been “traumatized” by the lack of care from the sheriff’s office, which they alleged botched the investigation.“If the sheriff’s department is not capable of doing a job correctly, leaving my sister behind, they should own up and call in outside resources,” she told the outlet.

“I knew, there was something telling me there was more,” she told WAFB.

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to the outlet about the family’s allegations.

Sheriff Leroy Ravenell told WAFB in an email that “the investigation into Ms. Melissa Aguilar going missing is an active and ongoing investigation.

“We are still asking the public for any information regarding Ms. Aguilar. If you have any information in this case, you are urged to contact us,” he added.

Meanwhile, the family praised the coroner’s office and thanked Deputy Coroner Valencia Golden for responding to the scene, where the official said some clothing also was found in the woods.

“She’s the light in our darkness, she’s putting everything together and she’s being there for us when nobody else is,” one of the daughters, Brown, told WIS-TV.

Coroner Samuetta Marshall said the remains were scattered over “a large area,” about 30 feet, just off Fourwind Road.

An outside forensic anthropologist brought in to help in the probe has so far gathered more than 90% of the skeletal remains, the outlet reported.

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