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Mt. Sterling woman's remains found in gorge

Human remains found Monday afternoon in the Red River Gorge have been identified as those of Nicole Penix Vanzant, 27, a from Mount Sterling, who disappeared Jan. 19.

A hiker found a jawbone in the Indian Creek area of the gorge in Powell County Monday afternoon, State Trooper Ralph Lockard said.

The state medical examiner's office confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the bones were those of Vanzant, Lockard said.

Officials have not determined a cause of death or when Vanzant might have died.

It's also too early to tell whether Vanzant was the victim of a homicide, Lockard said.

She was last seen with her ex-boyfriend at the Dollar General store in Frenchburg.

The site where the remains were found is about a 20-mile drive from there.

Vanzant's family lives in neighboring Menifee County and had mounted a significant search for her.

Federal forestry officers, state police and Dr. Emily Craig, the state forensic anthropologist, were on the scene Monday and returned Tuesday with the medical examiner's office's cadaver dogs.

The group recovered additional bones that had been scattered over an area about half the size of a football field, Lockard said.

He said animals are thought to have scattered the remains.

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