Two small bodies found buried off Interstate 80 with duct-tape crosses over them were identified Saturday by authorities as the New Hampshire siblings killed by their father 21/2 years ago.
Dental records confirmed that the bodies are those of Sarah Gehring, 14, and her brother, Philip, 11, said Summit County Medical Examiner Lisa Kohler. The children had been shot.
"It's just been this unbelievable burden not having them found, and so that does feel like somewhat of a relief," the children's mother, Teri Knight, said Saturday. "It's tough, but it's better than not knowing where they are."
A woman walking her dog discovered the children's shallow grave Thursday in a wooded area near Hudson, about halfway between Cleveland and Akron. The area closely fit the clues the children's father had given authorities before killing himself. He had described a makeshift cross in a rural area near a highway and bell-shaped concrete sewer connectors, a fence and a woodpile nearby.
Manuel Gehring had also told authorities he wrapped his children in plastic and buried them with duct-tape crosses on their chests.
The children disappeared with Gehring in 2003 amid a custody dispute. They were last seen arguing with him at a Fourth of July fireworks display in Concord, N.H. Gehring later said he pulled off a highway that night and shot the children, then drove for hours with their bodies in his van before burying them.
After Gehring was arrested in California, he told investigators he could not remember where he had buried the bodies. He gave vague clues that led to repeated searches along a 700-mile stretch of Interstate 80, from Pennsylvania to Nebraska.
"He told the FBI that he doubled back and he turned left and right here and there," David W. Ruoff, an assistant New Hampshire attorney general, said Saturday. "He just didn't tell us what exit he took."
Gehring strangled himself in prison before he could be tried.
In 2004, the U.S. Geological Survey analyzed pollen on soil found under Gehring's minivan and near a shovel used to bury the children. It concluded that the soil most likely came from northeastern Ohio.