'Hope just broke completely': Years-old remains found in South Phoenix identified through DNA

Three-year-old human remains were discovered in South Phoenix and the victim has been identified, draining the last bit of hope the family had that the young man would make it home alive.

The victim, in this case, has been identified as 31-year-old Jerole Tsinnijinnie, and his death is being investigated as a homicide.

He was reported missing in January 2020.

Police were called to an area near the Holbert Trailhead on Jan. 14, 2023, after a hiker discovered a skull that "showed what appeared to be trauma." A set of car keys and the victim's clothing – a dark blue sweatshirt, jeans, a plaid dress shirt, and Converse shoes – were also found.

"I had hope that he would be in our presence once again, and that hope just broke completely and came crashing down. It was very painful," his mother said.

In January of this year, a hiker in the South Mountain Preserve found what turned out to be a human skull. In the last month, Phoenix Police detectives used DNA testing and found a match.

"You know, it's hard. My heart breaks for what we had to go through to put my son to rest," his mother said.

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Photo from the Tsinnijinnie family

Jerole was 28 went he disappeared, leaving behind a pregnant wife and a family who loved him.

He was a member of the Navajo Nation.

He's described by his family as funny, loving and outgoing.

"He was a husband, a father of three children, he had a baby on the way who was born that March after he went missing. He now has four beautiful children. They're all growing. His oldest Riley is 11, Harley is 7, Aiden is 5, and Faith is now 3 years old," his sister Kaylene Tsinnijinnie said.

Phoenix Police have not come forward with any leads. And course, his family is wanting nothing more than a crack in the case.

"The idea of whoever did this to him is out … is out there. It's scary that this person is still walking among my nieces and nephews out there in Phoenix," his mother said.

Kaylene, his sister, says she wanted to speak out about missing and murdered indigenous people.