Peggy K. disappeared 15 years ago. Photo: dpa
Police in Thuringia confirmed skeletal remains were found near Saalfeld, near the Bavarian border, by a mushroom hunter, leading police to claim that the body of Peggy K. has finally been found.
A press release from Monday afternoon said that initial forensic investigations pointed to the "high likelihood" that the remains were those of the missing nine year old.
On May 7, 2001, Peggy K. disappeared on her way home from school in Lichtenberg in Upper Franconia, Bavaria. What ensued was one of Germany's largest child abduction alerts, which was broadcast as far as Turkey, the homeland of Peggy's stepfather.
A cause of death has not yet been determined.
"We will wait for the forensic results. They can bring certainty," Peggy's parents told the media, adding they did not want to speculate.
Police in Saalfeld told reporters that they could not exclude the possibility that the remains were those of Peggy.
The initial investigation involved thousands of police officers, as well as Bundeswehr Tornados, to search the woods surrounding her home.
Despite more than 4,800 tips and an offered reward of 55,000 Deutsch Marks, what happened to Peggy has remained one of Germany's biggest mysteries.
The case led to the controversial prosecution of Ulvi K., who lived in the same town as Peggy. Despite having a reported IQ of 68, police claimed he confessed to the crime, including murdering Peggy to get rid of the evidence of sexual assault.
In 2004 he was sentenced to life in prison, but ten years later the verdict was overturned on appeal. Since then no further arrests have been made.
Peggy's disappearance has also been the subject of books and documentaries in Germany.
Bayrische Rundfunk were the first to report on Monday morning the possible connection to the missing child.