The remains of a Grays Harbor County girl missing nearly nine years were found in September 2017, the sheriff's office announced Thursday.
"We’ve brought Lindsey home," said Grays Harbor County Sheriff Rick Scott. "We’ve recovered her."
Hunters found Lindsey Baum's remains while hunting in a remote area of Eastern Washington that does not have a population base.
Officials would not say where in Eastern Washington the remains were found because it is an active and ongoing investigation.
The remains were sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for DNA analysis in September, but they were not analyzed by the FBI until several weeks ago, because they were not associated with a specific criminal investigation.
The DNA match to Baum was made this week, according to Scott.
"I was sad that it was ending like this, but I was glad we were able to bring some element of closure to what had happened to her," said Scott.
Now that Baum's remains have been found, the investigation turns to a kidnapping and homicide investigation. Scott said law enforcement is focusing on finding the "monster" who did this.
Baum was just shy of her 11th birthday when she disappeared in McCleary, Wash., on June 26, 2009. She was seen leaving a friend's house and walking home.
McCleary residents crowded into the community center where the sheriff made the announcement Thursday afternoon.
"What Lindsey Baum did for the community is what 9-11 did for the nation. It just took away our innocence," said Tom Hawkins, who has lived in McCleary for 75 years.
Neyse Smudka lives two doors down from the house where the Baum family lived. She said she quietly held out hope all of these years.
"People were kind of hoping 'Oh maybe she ran off with friends,'" said Smudka. "I guess I was kind of hoping that's what she had done."
Thursday night, people brought flowers to a tree dedicated to Lindsey Baum.
“It is the small town of McCleary. You shouldn't have to worry about your children disappearing, and we had one disappear,” said Bea Brinkly. “It was important to us to bring flowers down. I feel for the family. I have grandkids the same age. It’s heart-wrenching.”
“I’m very devastated. I’ve never seen a little angel like her be taken in my own town,” said Jessikah Watson. “I wish I could wrap my arms around her family and say I love them.”
“I was wondering when and if they'd find her. I was hoping they'd find her alive,” said Terry Lemmon.
Since the disappearance, the sheriff's office has released surveillance video images of people or vehicles seen in McCleary that night, but those efforts never lead to answers.
Baum's disappearance is a case Scott said would "haunt" him the rest of his career.
At the press conference, which was the first scheduled update on the case in years, Scott pleaded for anyone with information about the case to come forward.
"There are people out there that have information that would be the nugget that we need to explode this investigation and culminate in an arrest," Scott said. "We need those people to have the courage to come forward and share that information."
"We found Lindsey. We'll find who did it," one woman said at the community center. "God is good. He won't leave us hanging."
No arrests have been made at this time.